In 2009, General Motors Co. more than doubled its number of technology patents in alternative-powered vehicles. This is impressive, considering that GM certainly had been busy with the bankruptcy and reorganization proceedings.
According to Derwent World Patents Index, of London, an international database of patent activity, GM filed 629 patent applications in the alternative-power area last year.
The year before, only 261 were filed. GM's patent is the second-highest volume in the industry, second only to Toyota Motor Corp. Still leading in the alternative-power field is Toyota with 2,058 new patent applications last year, down from 2,379 in 2008.
Derwent revealed that GM swooped past Nissan Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and two of Japan's most prolific technology suppliers, Denso Corp. and Panasonic Corp.
If you're not familiar with the term, the field of alternative-powered vehicles actually covers a range of technologies related to nontraditional autos.
The patent applications that these companies are so keen on include innovations in electric drives, hybrid-power vehicles, lithium ion batteries, clean fuels, compressed gas, liquefied natural gas or nickel-metal hydride components.
GM has been concentrating its resources on the development of the forthcoming Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle, which will go on sale late this year. GM has designed and engineered over 140 unique parts for the car's hybrid propulsion system. It is currently building plants to produce battery packs in-house. [via autonews]