How Green Was Detroit's Technology?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
how green was detroits technology

James Malackowski penned an editorial in today’s Detroit News, improbably arguing that “much of the privately funded green and energy innovation in the United States will stall or likely never come to fruition if the domestic automobile industry fails.” Malackowski reaches this conclusion by comparing the Detroit 3’s patent portfolio in four areas (emission control, hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid/electric tech, and “emerging related technologies developed by these same firms including solar, wind and other green inventions”) with those of 15 other large automakers. His conclusions, presented without sourcing, are that “GM has higher average quality and newer green technology and patents than the other 14 automakers combined”; “Ford and GM together hold approximately a third of all green technology patents and the related value”; “GM has 70 percent of the patents in the emerging technology category. This domestic share increases to 85 percent if Ford is added”; and “Ford owns 30 percent of all patents with a similar related value measure in emission control innovation.” Unfortunately for Malackowski’s argument, comparing the number of held patents is meaningless considering that these innovations are simply not reflected in these firms’ products.

There’s no need to hammer home the mediocrity of Detroit’s technological offerings; Chevy’s mild hybrids, the Escape hybrid’s japanese-sourced transmission, the dismal failure of the two-mode hybrids, Chrysler, the absence of viable hydrogen vehicles, the PNGV dead-end and much more tell the real story. Malackowski simply counts the number of patents held, without analyzing their value or application in consumer products. As we reported back in March, Detroit’s patent filings are on the rise, but not because the amount and quality of new technology innovation is on the rise. OEMs and suppliers are simply filing more lawsuits than ever before, making intellectual property a new and attractive revenue source. Until this technology filters into consumer products, Malackowski’s patent-counting is just patently misleading.

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  • Johnster Johnster on Dec 06, 2008
    bmmr : anyone see this in Freep today? Um, no. And I still can't see it. What's the deal with I don't think I've ever clicked on a link and had it work. Ever.

  • Martin B Martin B on Dec 06, 2008

    American patents are all about making the description as vague as possible and suing anyone who remotely appears to infringe on it. They are more scam than protection. WE can be thankful that old Henry Ford fought the Selden Patent until he won.

  • ToolGuy From the listing: "Oil changes every April & October (full-synth), during which I also swap out A/S (not the stock summer MPS3s) and Blizzak winter tires on steelies, rotating front/back."• While ToolGuy applauds the use of full synthetic motor oil,• ToolGuy absolutely abhors the waste inherent in changing out a perfectly good motor oil every 6 months.The Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage I run in our family fleet has a change interval of 20,000 miles. (Do I go 20,000 miles before changing it? No.) But this 2014 Focus has presumably had something like 16 oil changes in 36K miles, which works out to a 2,250 mile average change interval. Complete waste of time, money and perfectly good natural gas which could have gone to a higher and better use.Mobil 1 also says their oil miraculously expires at 1 year, and ToolGuy has questions. Is that one year in the bottle? One year in the vehicle? (Have I gone longer than a year in some of our vehicles? Yes, I have. Did I also add Lucas Oil 10131 Pure Synthetic Oil Stabilizer during that time, in case you are concerned about the additive package losing efficacy? Yes, I might have -- as far as you know.)TL;DR: I aim for annual oil changes and sometimes miss that 'deadline' by a few months; 12,000 miles between oil changes bothers me not at all, if you are using a quality synthetic which you should be anyway.
  • Carlson Fan Doesn't it take electricity to make hydrogen? Why not just charge a battery. Seems like that would be more efficient & clean not factoring in all the pollution it takes to manufacture today's batteries. But maybe fuel cells are just as bad, not sure about that. A hydrogen vehicle is nothing more than an electric car where hydrogen gas & a fuel cell are used in place of a battery.
  • Deanst A friend with a Model Y pays to park and then pays to charge because he can get a quick supercharge. He says other supercharger stations with free parking are not as fast.
  • Carlson Fan At home always for the 7 years I've owned my Volt. Never once used a public charger.At 40+ MPG, It's cheaper to just burn gas if I need to get home versus paying the ridiculous rates at a public charger.
  • Deanst I applaud them for trying something different, even if I question its appeal.