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The race is on for new electric vehicle technology

The key innovations with electric vehicles are being driven by a series of startups, which are listed here.

Robots mount doors on an ID.3 Volkswagen electric car. Germany's pivot to electric vehicles means carmakers are racing to retrain their workforces. — © AFP
Robots mount doors on an ID.3 Volkswagen electric car. Germany's pivot to electric vehicles means carmakers are racing to retrain their workforces. — © AFP

In the fast-developing world of electric vehicles, it appears that small, unknown startups are driving the future of motoring technology.

Such developments are significant given the escalating fuel costs experienced by motorists worldwide, against the backdrop of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Global developments have added fuel to the debate about whether electric vehicles could and should become a more viable option going forwards.

Electric vehicles are growing in popularity (there were 6.6 million electric vehicle sales in 2021, more than double the number sold in 2020). However, the sales remain only a fraction of global automobile purchases with electric vehicles representing just over 4 percent of all new cars sold globally. 

How bright is the future for EVs?

According to IFI CLAIMS Patent Services, a Digital Science company dedicated to providing the world’s most trusted patent data for research, innovation and technology, a review of patent applications reveals some critical details about the future strength of the electric vehicle industry and the real leaders of innovation in the field. 

A recent report by IFI summarises all electric vehicle-related patent applications by companies globally in the past 10 years. These findings have been published on the IFI CLAIMS website.

The data reveals that over 1,000 patent applications were made by startups, spanning such technologies as: batteries; energy storage, supply, distribution, and related circuits; propulsion systems; electrodynamic brake systems; non-electric variable control; traffic control; hybrid vehicle control systems; and data processing.

The electric vehicles report provides significant insights into current trends and the future of the transportation industry and makes it clear that electric vehicles are finally part of the mainstream and last year saw a procession of announcements by legacy carmakers (GM and Ford, among others) with big promises backed by sizable investments in electrifying their fleets.

According to IFI CEO Mike Baycroft. the patent application landscape shows significant activity by key ‘startup stars’, which is a reference to smaller, innovative players.

Leading startups over the past 10 years include:

  • Sakti3 (69 patents granted), a battery company acquired by Dyson in 2015
  • NovaTorque (37 patents), a manufacturer of electric motors for industrial and commercial applications
  • Visedo (35 patents), a developer of electric drive train components
  • Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification (WAVE) (25 patents since 2011), a provider of wireless charging solutions for heavy duty EVs; acquired in 2021 by Ideanomics.

Leading startups over the past five years include:

  • Polyplus Battery, Terrawatt Technology, and Soteria Battery Innovation – a combined total of 84 patents, all in the area of EV batteries
  • Nucurrent and Solarlytics – combined 115 patents in energy storage.

The patent applications from these new players is starting to attract interest from larger investors.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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