According to the Patent Board, General Motors received no less than 1,672 patents in the areas of general automotive engineering, powertrain, manufacturing, research and development, and OnStar (telematics) in 2013 — putting it in first place in the auto and transportation industries by the sheer amount of acquired patents. That’s 176 more than Toyota Motor Corporation, which came in second place, and twice as many as Ford, which ranked third.
General Motors’ chief technology officer Jon Lauckner believes that breakthrough technologies show how the automaker is applying its intellectual property to real-world products.
“Commercializing patented inventions as game changing vehicle features and manufacturing processes reflect GM’s commitment to innovation,” he was quoted as saying.
GM’s breakthroughs, including the new aluminum spot welding technique and shape memory alloys, are showcased in its latest products. For instance, spot welding enables an increased use of aluminum to shave off pounds compared to steel, thereby helping to improve fuel economy and driving performance while shape memory alloys replace heavier motorized actuators in trucks, enabling customers to open and close them with less effort. Coincidentally, both innovations make their production debuts in the 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray.
The Patent Board also named GM number one in Technology Strength, a measure indicating overall strength of the company’s patent portfolio holdings. The honors could serve as an indicator of the kind of technology that’s on the horizon from The General.