Published November 21, 2023

New analysis of patent filing data suggests global confidence in the UK market for low-carbon vehicle technology has fallen significantly, with active patents in the UK market from multinational companies at a five-year low.

A new report reveals foreign investment in protecting low-carbon vehicle innovation in the UK has fallen three-fold in five years, indicating global confidence in the UK market is in decline.

According to the latest figures, the total number of patents from foreign filers in the UK has dropped 79% in half a decade, reaching a low of 553 patents from foreign investors compared with 2,743 in five years.

Germany, the US, and Japan continue to lead innovative activity in the space of low-carbon innovation but are not protecting their innovations in the UK like they used to. Patents from the US have dropped the most significantly — seeing an 84% reduction in patent filings in the UK in five years. Germany is down 73% indicating that they may not see the UK as a market of importance as they once did back in 2015.

The report, created by UK Patent Box experts GovGrant, analyzed global low-carbon vehicle technology patent filings using the last five years of available data. The analysis highlights the countries of origin for companies choosing to invest in the UK market for green vehicle technology advancement and the companies who hold the highest volume of active patent applications in the UK for low-carbon vehicle innovation.

The UK holds global position on low-carbon innovation but struggles to fill the deficit

Economic uncertainty and the unpredictable political landscape has dented investor confidence in the UK market, though data shows the UK is taking steps to grow influence in the area. The number of low-carbon vehicle patents from UK companies has increased by almost a third (31%) over five years of available data and now ranks sixth globally for patent filings by volume. Despite this, the UK still struggles to match innovation from the five biggest nations — the fifth highest alone, France, sees more than double the low-carbon innovation than the UK.

Akshay Thaman, IP Consultant & Policy Lead at GovGrant, says:

“In a market dominated by foreign players, foreign investment in the UK is crucial for skilled jobs to be located here and hopefully for technologies to be created here. We are seeing this to an extent in the UK, but it’s not in the same ballpark as what we’re seeing in Japan, the US, South Korea, Germany, and even France. Seeing foreign filers drop off the radar means it’s likely that they do not view the UK as important a market to protect as it once was. Businesses will protect in markets where they will manufacture, sell, and use those technologies or are threatened by competition that might protect in those key markets.”

Alec Griffiths, IP Manager at GovGrant says:

“Patents are a great indicator of innovation within particular industries – greener transportation being one of them. Though they are not the sole indicator, as they are made public 18 months after filing, they are one of the more comprehensive metrics for tracking innovation. A patent may be filed for many different reasons, but it certainly demonstrates that the territory in which it has been filed is of interest to the applicant. This is why we’ve chosen to use patent filing data to provide some insights into the UK position on low-carbon vehicles. The data provides insight into the market impact in the immediate wake of the Brexit vote, and given Rishi Sunak’s recent announcement to move the goalpost for no-carbon vehicle targets from 2030 to 2035, this is likely to create further uncertainty in the market.”


Akshay Thaman

Akshay Thaman

IP Consultant & Policy Lead, GovGrant

Alec Griffiths

Alec Griffiths

IP Manager, GovGrant


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