Mercedes has a new EV that could compete with Tesla, but the problem for Tesla is that Mercedes is using Tesla technology to compete against it ... sounds like a tough sales pitch for Telsa to make "buy my car not that other really nice car using my stuff."
Meanwhile Toyota turns away from EV's, has ended its own technology deal with Telsa and is working on a fuel cell car ... and Hyundai will soon sells its Tucson CUV in California powered by Hydrogen. Tesla continues with its plans for a "Gigafactory" with Panasonic apparently anxious to be Tesla's one and only. Ohh ... and eight big coastal states are pushing for more EV's in case anyone is listening. Sounds like things are a bit scrambled in the non-gas powered auto world...
To give a further perspective of what may be coming soon, we can look at the automotive clean energy patent world. In the Patent race for electric vehicles and fuel cell technologies, Tesla scored in the top ten for Hybrid electric vehicles, as did Hyundai and Panasonic for Fuel Cell technologies, as described in the 2013 year end edition of the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index. Mercedes is nowhere to be found in this race ... which may explain the use of Tesla's technology in its new EV. Toyota is at the top of the Hybrid/eletric vehicle rankings which makes its move away from EV's curious and perhaps should make the other automakers think twice.
As depicted below, the "Prius" effect has vaulted Toyota to the top of the 2013 and cumulative Hybrid/Electric Vehicle patent rankings since 2002. Ford, however, is right on Toyota's tail, trailing by only one HEV patent in 2013 and nine patents overall. For 2013, GM (39) was close to the leaders, just behind Ford (45). Hyundai (35) and Honda (31) were spaced apart from each other and GM, respectively, by only 4 patents. A bigger gap separated Kia (17) and Mitsubishi (17) from Honda. Tesla hit the 8th spot in 2013 followed by Nissan and Bosch both with 10 Hybrid/Electric Vehicle patents in 2013, tying for the 9th spot.
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GM took the annual Fuel Cell patent crown with 128 Fuel Cell Patents to Toyota's 110 in 2013 (see below). Samsung (69) trailed Toyota by over 40 Fuel Cell patents, but led Honda (52) by 17 and Panasonic (31) by over 30 in 2013. Hyundai (not depicted above) was next in 2013 with 29 Fuel Cell patents granted followed by Nissan with 22. Bloom Energy had 13 Fuel Cell patents which was 7 less than the year before while Daimler was the grantee of 12 fuel cell patents, three less than 2012. Societe Bic and UTC rounded out the 2013 class of top Fuel Cell patent leaders with 11 granted.
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Of all the talk about EV's versus fuel cell vehicles, it is interesting to note that both need a lot of the same parts ... since a fuel cell also makes electricity to drive an electric motor to make a car go ... and the electric motor doesn't know the difference between the electricity coming out of the fuel cell and out of the battery ... so whether fuel cells or batteries end up winning (and it will likely be some kind of combination) ... it will be an electric drivetrain in the end either way ... so let's hope that the research and development going into these patents has applications in both ...