The Missing blocks in Volvo Patent Portfolio
Volvo is one of the world’s renowned automobile companies. A study of the patent portfolio of Volvo from 2016 onwards shows its increasing focus on patenting various automotive technologies across the globe. Volvo group has 1100 published patents from 2016, which is expected to further rise following upcoming technologies such as bringing autonomous cars and electric/hybrid vehicles. The Swedish multinational manufacturing company has already pressed the accelerator to match up to the customer’s expectations and race ahead of their competitors.
A study of Volvo group publications from 2016 reveals information relating to publication trends and concepts of various patents filed across the globe. The below figure shows the strong areas as well as the missing technologies in Volvo’s patent portfolio.
Green blocks indicate the strong areas of Volvo IP with the size of each block increasing with the number of patent filings. The white blocks indicate areas where the Volvo patent portfolio lacks and the top filers in that technology block.
The core IP strength areas of Volvo Company are internal combustion engines, construction equipment, vehicle transmission units, combination vehicles, hydraulic pumps, vehicle control units, and vehicle assembly/mountings such as vehicle axle, seat belts, parking brakes, exhaust gas systems, steering wheel, heat exchangers and fuel tanks, etc.
The company also shows involvement in relatively new technologies such as autonomous cars, electrical energy storage systems, hybrid cars.
A small, yet significant number of patent filings are also done in various other fields like filters, inter-coolers, lubricating systems, flywheels. Thus, the company’s supremacy in the field of heavy-duty vehicles especially trucks is backed up by their enormous patent filings in this sector.
Compared to other big automobile technological giants, Volvo group has a lesser number of patent filings in the field of safety systems, steering systems, and prime movers arrangement indicating lesser involvement of the company in light-duty vehicles. The patent filings in the field of autonomous vehicles and hybrid vehicles are significantly lower as compared to Toyota, Google & Bosch.
In times where the present generation is expecting more and more vehicles to be safe and automated, lesser involvement of Volvo group in those sectors could prove to be a setback for their future market share.
In conclusion, the Volvo Group is currently more focused on patent filings in the heavy-duty vehicle category whereas light-duty vehicle categories are given little importance as compared to other automobile tycoons. However, in this constantly changing technological ecosystem, one can’t expect to be on top unless it’s looking for a good IP dominance in all major segments. Every company, through mergers& acquisitions or technology transfer, is trying to get a lion’s share in the automation vehicle industry. Thus, to escalate its position in the light-duty vehicle category, Volvo should be focusing more & more on upcoming technologies to regain its position in this field.