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Patents and technology trends for EV Powertrain in India

This article was first published in EVreporter August 2021 magazine.

Licensing and patenting are essential aspects of sharing and advancing technology. Trends of patenting activity could imply advances in technology, R&D, competition, and industry inclinations. This article by Govind Kedia, Managing Director at Arctic Invent, touches upon the patenting activity related to EV powertrain in India.

The patent procedure

The patenting procedure involves a series of steps from filing, publication, and examination to grant. Once you file a patent application, the patent office publishes it 18 months after filing. The applicant has to file a request for examination once the application is published. Then, after examination, a patent is finally granted at least 30 months from the filing date.

The patent scenario of EV powertrain in India

The first step in the patenting procedure is applying for a patent. Patent filing trends show when there is intense IP activity in the industry. In our analysis, there were a total of 529 patents (related to the field) filed in the given period.

Fig 1 – Number of patent applications related to EV powertrain from 2001 to June 2021 in India

Fig. 1 shows that ever since the first patent application in EV powertrain in 2001, patent filing peaked much later at 75+ patents in 2014, registering a sharp fall in the next year. After that, filing activity fluctuated for a couple of years before falling steeply again in 2019.

Interestingly, when the world was coming to terms with the pandemic, close to 55 patents were filed in 2020 alone. The majority of patents filed during this period were for two-wheeler EVs. Suzuki and Piaggio filed many patents to improvise battery positioning in two-wheel EVs in 2020. Amongst the latest patents filed in 2021 is IN202141012385A, owned by TVS, which focuses on the positioning of two electric motors in the powertrain of two or three-wheeled vehicles. Patent filing in 2021 has been relatively low thus far as compared to the previous years.

Trend of patents that were published in India from 2004 to 2021

Following the patent application, the patent office publishes patents for public knowledge 18 months after the filing date. This section discusses the publication trends of patents in EV powertrains in India from 2004 to 2021.

Fig 2 shows that publications remained low during 2004-13. However, from 2007-09 there were about 43 patent publications in total. The filing date is shifted back by at least 18 months from the publishing date.

Fig. 2 Number of patents published each year that relate to EV powertrain.

There were around 135 patents in 2015. The period 2014-17 accounted for about 70% of the total number of patents published. The patent office published 90 patents during the pandemic from 2020-2021.

Companies filing patents in EV powertrain technologies

Fig. 3 Bar graph showing the number of patents filed by top patent applicants in the EV powertrain segment to date.

Honda dominated the EV powertrain patents in the Indian market. It has about 400 patents related to batteries and leads the EV powertrain space with 75 patent applications. Toyota has been actively filing patent applications in India with about 60 patents related to EV powertrains. The number of patents filed by NTN, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, and Bosch averaged 20 in the segment. The two biggest two-wheeler manufacturers, TVS and Hero MotoCorp, remained behind in the filing of patent applications with less than ten patents in this field.

The home-grown startup, Ather Energy (not shown in graph) also filed a patent on a multipurpose mount assembly. It aims to mount the drivetrain and the electrical components without compromising the total weight.

American EV company Protean Electric filed several patents related to electric motors and torque control. The market share of other companies was evenly distributed, with patents filed by companies ranging from Mahindra to General Motors.

Innovations that were patented in EV powertrain

In India, public transit accounts for large passenger movements. Thus, we see innovation in the areas of electric buses, three-wheelers to two-wheelers. Innovations in two-wheelers range from motor mounting due to space constraints to torque control.

Hero MotoCorp patented its drive selection mechanism, i.e. selector operating an electric 2W in 4 modes: reverse, economy, sport, and boost.

A significant challenge with EVs remains the setting up of a new manufacturing facility. Thus, innovations are ongoing to inculcate changes to existing systems to produce EVs on the same assembly lines as conventional vehicles. One such example is from Daimler AG’s recently published Indian patent that talks about an electric drive platform to convert a traditional semi-tractor or a truck to an electric vehicle.

Daimler AG’s patent on an electric drive essentials platform (100) shown in figure to convert a conventional truck to EV.

Honda’s latest patent focuses on a method to eliminate the need for replacing a battery when arc discharge occurs in 2Ws. Generally, in two-wheelers, a charging plug for the battery is placed under the seat. Sometimes there is a risk of arc discharge when you wish to remove the battery attached to the chassis. So, it prevents the operation of removing the battery when arc discharge occurs by using a sensor to detect the opening and closing of the battery lid.

Another innovation is seen in a Bajaj Group’s patent that tackles the problem of limited space in three or four-wheelers. By providing packaging for placing the powertrain components, it achieves a compact layout.

Companies with active granted patents in EV powertrain technologies

The patent office grants a patent that fulfils all requirements after the examination. Once granted, a patent remains in force for 20 years from the date of filing. While there may be changes to a published application, a granted patent is final. If you do not pay the maintenance fee or the patent term expires, the patent becomes inactive, and anyone can use the technology.

The bar graph below illustrates the current owners of active granted patents in EV powertrain technologies.

Analysing 529 patents, we found that about 110 granted patents are in force. 416 patents are active but not yet granted, and two have gone out of force.

  • Honda has the most active granted patents.
  • Toyota secured 13 patents, most of them related to power supply, charging and power regeneration of an EV.
  • Of its total 30 patent applications, Suzuki has three granted patents.
  • There are also patents on four-wheeled electric vehicles belonging to GM, Tata, Porsche and others.

The majority of the innovations protected in the powertrain domain relate to control of the motor or power supply. Many other players including Hyundai, Mahindra, Alstom, etc., secured a patent each.


There was a boom in patenting activity from 2012-17, indicating a push for developing powertrain technology. After a slump in 2018-19, filing and publication grew in 2020. Many patents were filed in two-wheeler and three-wheeler categories of EVs by Indian companies and 4 wheelers by global car companies. Recently, the manufacturing industry faced many challenges due to the pandemic. There will likely be an upward trend in patent activity as the nation moves towards normalcy. Major players in all vehicle applications and EV startups are expected to continue innovating to stay competitive. Patent filing and protection will likely get into narrower areas of problem- solving in powertrains

Arctic Innovation Consulting Solutions Private Limited (arcticinvent.com), provides industry specific patent trend news, databases, and help technology companies protect their intellectual property.The author can be reached at govind@arcticinvent.com

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