The companies leading the race for new electric vehicle technology

Free Trial Contact Us

Small, unknown "startup stars" represent the future of motoring tech

The "pain at the pump" experienced by motorists worldwide against the backdrop of Russia's war on Ukraine has added fuel to the debate about whether electric vehicles could and should become a more viable option.

While electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity - with 6.6 million EV sales in 2021*, more than double the number sold in 2020 - they also represent just over 4% of all new cars sold globally. 

So how bright is the future for EVs?

IFI CLAIMS Patent Services – a Digital Science company dedicated to providing the world's most trusted patent data for research, innovation and technology - says patent applications reveal some critical details about the future strength of the EV 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. Its findings have now been published on the IFI CLAIMS website.

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 EV 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: After years of Elon Musk and Tesla’s lonely race to cultivate and prove a broad market for electric vehicles, last year was studded with a procession of announcements by legacy carmakers – GM and Ford, among others – with big promises backed by sizable investments in electrifying their fleets.

"An important part of our work at IFI CLAIMS is to enable our clients to track technology trends and gain insight into which innovative companies might become targets for mergers and acquisitions," says IFI CEO Mike Baycroft.

"What we can see from the patent application landscape is a tremendous amount of activity by key 'startup stars' – smaller, innovative players that should be of interest to investors."

"Patent landscapes allow us to identify these smaller companies and underlying technology trends that are driving change in the EV industry today," he says.

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.


"These companies certainly aren't household names, but their patent applications are likely to attract attention from much larger investors," Baycroft says.

The electric vehicle industry is just one example of insights provided by IFI CLAIMS. For other sector analysis, visit the IFI CLAIMS Live 1000, a free tool that uses data from the top 1000 companies that received US patents in 2021.

* Figures from the International Energy Agency.

Digital Science is a technology company working to make research more efficient. We invest in, nurture and support innovative businesses and technologies that make all parts of the research process more open and effective. Our portfolio includes admired brands including Altmetric, CC Grant Tracker, Dimensions, Figshare, ReadCube, Symplectic, IFI CLAIMS, GRID, Overleaf, Ripeta and Writefull. We believe that together, we can help researchers make a difference. Visit www.digital-science.com and follow @digitalsci on Twitter.

IFI CLAIMS is dedicated to having the world's leading patent data platform for new insights and innovations. This includes producing the industry's most accurate and trusted patent database, drawing on more than 143 million records from over 100 countries, including full-text records from 45 countries. For more information, visit www.ificlaims.com or follow @IFIClaims on Twitter.