BYD holds 15 times more patents than Tesla

Max McDee, 24 September 2023

In the fast-evolving world of electric vehicles, two names stand out: BYD and Tesla. While Tesla has been a front-runner in the EV market, recent data reveals that BYD has been quietly securing its position as the patent king of EVs, with a staggering 13,000 applications in comparison to Tesla’s 863 over the past two decades.

BYD, a Chinese automotive giant, has been diligently working behind the scenes, focusing on protecting its battery technology. A whopping 50% of BYD’s patents are dedicated to batteries, allowing the company to develop in-house battery packs, a feat not many car manufacturers can boast. This strategic move has positioned BYD as a leader in the development and manufacture of lithium-ion batteries with iron phosphate cathodes, which are notably more affordable than the ternary lithium batteries utilizing nickel and cobalt from their Korean counterparts.


On the other side of the spectrum, Tesla, the American EV behemoth, has taken a different approach. With a mere 863 patents filed, one might raise an eyebrow at the disparity. However, Tesla’s strategy leans heavily on software development, utilizing a plethora of publicly available information. A significant portion of Tesla’s patents revolve around charging infrastructure and communication between EVs and drivers, showcasing their focus on enhancing user experience and connectivity.

Patent lawyer Hideto Kono notes that a company of Tesla’s stature would typically file for at least ten times as many patents. The lower number of patents from Tesla raises questions about their reliance on software and the risk of imitation by competitors. Unlike BYD, Tesla mitigates this risk by implementing new production technology exclusively within its factories.

While patents offer a layer of protection, they also come with a caveat. The details of the patents are made public, leaving room for potential imitation. This is particularly crucial for BYD, as their proprietary battery technologies can be dissected by simply disassembling the battery packs. The company’s heavy reliance on patents underscores the importance of safeguarding its innovations in a competitive market.

Refreshed Tesla Model 3 Refreshed Tesla Model 3

Despite the differences in their approach to patents, both BYD and Tesla are driving forces in the EV industry. BYD’s focus on battery technology has established them as pioneers in the field, while Tesla’s emphasis on software, user experience, and production methods continues to set them apart.

Interestingly, BYD’s commitment to in-house battery development sets them apart from most EV manufacturers, who often rely on third-party suppliers. This autonomy not only gives BYD a competitive edge but also highlights its dedication to innovation and self-reliance.

As the race for EV supremacy continues, BYD and Tesla remain at the forefront, each with their unique approach and vision. The patent disparity underscores the varying strategies and priorities of these automotive giants, leaving us to wonder what the next chapter in the EV saga will hold.



Reader comments

Well, their UX shows only a partial understanding, because their Yoke, way to "shift", blinkers as a touch buttons are pretty much stuff of nightmares.

  • ibrahim

Tesla's focus on software development shows their understanding of the future of EVs. It's not all about patents.



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