Even as the hype surrounding connected car technologies and the approaching era of autonomous vehicles is reaching cosmic proportions, there’s a new study that shows the automotive industry’s pace of innovation actually declined last year.

Thompson Reuters studied a dozen technology sectors across the automotive industry, with global levels of patent volume soaring just three percent across all of them last year – the slowest increase rate since the global recession ended back in 2009. More so, the powertrain area showed a slight decline – even as the governments across the world are calling for better developments in the area as they enact tougher fuel economy and emissions standards. The study further points out the total volume of new scientific research was 23 percent off during the past year. Toyota, the world’s largest automaker was also the leader across the auto business sector with 4,338 patents last year. More so, the company opted to speed up development of fuel cell technology by offering its patent portfolio in the sector to everyone free of charge – though the move is seen by the study as one potential factor to explain why the innovation grew by such a meager pace year-over-year.

Ford last week also mirrored Toyota and US automaker Tesla Motors in allowing its competitors access to its patents related to electric-vehicle development. When it comes to patent volume, Toyota was first, followed on the podium by Hyundai Bosch and Denso. General Motors, which has a long standing tradition in the field as well, was the leader across US automotive innovation.



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