Ford CEO Mark Fields has repeatedly said he wants the automaker to be part of Silicon Valley as it pushes further into new businesses such as driverless cars and electrified vehicles.
NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. has sought a record number of patents in 2015 as CEO Mark Fields pushes the company toward Silicon Valley-style innovation.
The company applied for 5,872 patents so far this year, a 36 percent increase from all of 2014, in areas including autonomous cars, wearable devices and ride sharing, according to a statement today. Ford said its filings related to electrified vehicles have almost tripled in the past five years, including more than 400 last year.
“We’re getting innovation not just from the major centers we’ve had historically in Michigan and in Europe, but really the entire enterprise is becoming more inventive,” Bill Coughlin, CEO of Ford Global Technologies, said in a telephone interview. “Once someone starts thinking like an inventor, they can’t turn that off,” he said, adding that “it changes your mindset more toward one that would be very familiar in Silicon Valley.”
Fields has repeatedly said he wants Ford to be part of Silicon Valley as it pushes further into new businesses such as driverless cars and electrified vehicles. The automaker said earlier this month that it will invest $4.5 billion in electrified autos by 2020, after stepping up its autonomous-vehicle efforts in a June announcement that expanded its Smart Mobility plan and also included car-sharing test programs.
Ford also said today that it has 275 U.S. patents on its EcoBoost engines, more than any other automaker for gasoline turbocharged direct-injection technology, and an additional 200 pending.
As of November, about 1,000 of Ford’s patent applications from this year have been approved while the rest are in the process, said Karl Henkel, a company spokesman.
In another sign of Ford's innovation ambitions, the automaker is in talks with Google to have the automaker build Google’s next-generation autonomous cars under contract, Automotive News reported Monday. Neither Ford nor Google would confirm or deny the report, but Google said it is talking to automakers.