Ford Motor Company now holds 461 patents on its hybrid technology, up from 10 in 2000. In the last three years, the number of inventions submitted to Ford’s legal team to be considered for patents has increased more than 25%.
The development work began to accelerate slowly with the evolution of the Escape Hybrid—the first production hybrid vehicle from a US-based automaker—that was designed and developed in the early 2000s. Still, by 2002 Ford only had approximately 30 hybrid patents.
However, the amount of patent activity in that area began to increase significantly in the mid-2000s, according to Ming Kuang, technical leader in vehicle controls at Ford Electrification Research and Advanced Engineering in Dearborn, Mich. With the launch of the One Ford strategy, a more efficient method of innovation emerged.
We stopped trying to create and fix one-off, niche vehicles, and it made all the difference in the world.—Ming Kuang
Kuang’s name is on 40 of the 461 patents held by Ford that fall under the hybrid category. Twenty-five of the 40 patents are in production, including key components of Ford’s powersplit architecture system found on vehicles such as the all-new Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.