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Innovation Drives Record Patent Filings for Valeo

In addition to filing for 612 new patents for everything from lighting and clutches to brushes in a starter motor, the French supplier also published 755 patents in 2010.

PARIS – Valeo SA says it filed for 612 patents last year, 20% more than its average over the past five years and a record for the French supplier.

Valeo says its research emphasizes carbon-dioxide reduction and “the specificities of Asian and emerging markets.”

While the supplier does not detail what those Asian specificities are, parts producers in China and India trying to land business with local auto makers generally need to develop simpler, lower-cost solutions for automotive components.

Much of the high-tech thrust of Valeo’s research is dedicated to electrifying powertrains.

“This performance…is an illustration of the group’s growth strategy based on the development of innovative technologies within a context of major technological change in the automotive industry, particularly in the area of electric drivetrains,” Valeo CEO Jacques Aschenbroich says in a statement.

The patent documents are considered first filings, results that generally are published 18 months later.

Valeo says its 612 new patent filings in 2010 place the supplier among the top patent filers from France, which is substantiated by figures from INPI, the French patent office.

A review of Valeo patents published during 2010 – which were filed with INPI mainly in 2008 and 2009 – shows the weight of Valeo’s efforts to improve its position as a supplier of electric motors, generators and starters.

Patents cover everything from brushes in a starter motor to a method and device for detecting when a super capacitor reaches the end of its life.

Valeo uses super capacitors to capture regenerative-braking energy in the second-generation stop/start system adopted by PSA Peugeot Citroen this year.

The electric-motor division had 127 of the 755 Valeo patents published in 2010, and the motor-control systems group had another 65.

Heating and cooling engineers filed 191 patents, including systems for lithium-ion batteries as well as for internal-combustion engines.

Valeo lighting engineers had 93 patents published, and interior-safety engineers had 76. Engineers for friction materials, clutches, windshield wipers and other areas accounted for the rest.

Valeo spokeswoman Sylvie Delion says the 612 patents first filed in 2010 are a worldwide figure, including subsidiaries, while the INPI figures for 2010 are French and European and include some patent extensions.

Among the largest French automotive industry figures, PSA had the most patents published in 2010 at 1,365, followed by Renault SA (1,044), Valeo (755) and Faurecia SA (238).

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