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Global confidence falls in UK low-carbon vehicle market

by Thea Coates Finance Reporter
28th Feb 24 8:09 am

A new report reveals foreign investment in low-carbon vehicle innovation in the UK has fallen three-fold in 5 years, indicating global confidence in the UK market is in decline.

According to the latest figures, the total number of low-carbon patents in the UK has dropped 79% in half a decade, as a result of falling numbers of foreign filers investing in the UK market.

Within five years, patents from foreign companies reached a record low of 553 filings compared with 2,743 in 2015.

The data shows a significant shift in the companies filing patents in the UK low-carbon vehicle market. In 2015, foreign companies dominated the UK market for patents in the sector, with no UK-owned companies positioned in the top 10.

Foreign companies have drastically reduced the numbers of low-carbon patents being filed in the UK market, and the data shows previously dominant US aviation companies, Boeing and GE, no longer making the top 10 patent filers in the UK market. RTX Corp, another US-based organisation, that previously led filing numbers, has reduced the number of filings in the UK by 90%.

The report, created by UK Patent Box experts Source Advisors, analysed global low-carbon vehicle technology patent filings using the last five years of available data*. The analysis highlights the countries of origin for companies choosing to invest in the UK market for green vehicle technology advancement, and the companies who hold the highest volume of active patent applications in the UK for low-carbon vehicle innovation

A shift in companies filing patents in the UK

Economic uncertainty and the unpredictable political landscape have dented investor confidence in the UK market, though data shows the UK is taking steps to grow influence in the area. The number of low-carbon vehicle patents from UK companies has increased by almost a third (31%) over five years of available data.

Rolls Royce is the first UK-owned company to feature among the top patent filers, and Tata Motors filings are influenced heavily by the UK, with all 72 filings contributed by Jaguar Land Rover.

Germany, the US, and Japan continue to lead innovative activity in the space of low-carbon innovation but are not protecting their innovations in the UK like they used to. Patents from the USA have dropped the most significantly – seeing an 84% reduction in patent filings in the UK in five years. Germany is down 73% indicating that they may not see the UK as a market of importance as they once did back in 2015.

Akshay Thaman, IP & Policy Lead at Source Advisors, said, “In a market dominated by foreign players, foreign investment in the UK is crucial for skilled jobs to be located here and hopefully for technologies to be created here. We are seeing this to an extent in the UK, but it’s not in the same ballpark as what we’re seeing in Japan, US, South Korea, Germany and even France.

Seeing foreign filers drop off the radar, means it’s likely that they do not view the UK as important a market to protect as it once was. Businesses will protect in markets where they will manufacture, sell, and use those technologies or are threatened by competition that might protect in those key markets.”

Alec Griffiths, IP Manager at Source Advisors said, “Patents are a great indicator of innovation within particular industries, greener transportation being one of them. Though they are not the sole indicator, as they are made public 18 months after filing they are one of the more comprehensive metrics for tracking innovation.

“A patent may be filed for a great many different reasons, but it certainly demonstrates that the territory in which it has been filed is of interest to the applicant. This is why we’ve chosen to use patent filing data to provide some insights into the UK position on low-carbon vehicles.”

The data provides insight into the market impact in the immediate wake of the Brexit vote, and given Rishi Sunak’s recent announcement to move the goalpost for no-carbon vehicle targets from 2030 to 2035, this is likely to create further uncertainty in the market.”

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