Samsung Group has recently applied for a fistful of new patents that have spawned a series of rumors that the South Korean electronics ruler may be heading into the manufacturing of electric car systems and components. The patent applications went to the Korean Intellectual Property Rights Information Service and the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Samsung recently spoke to the Wall Street Journal and has stated that they have no intentions of entering the electric car industry, but the nature of the patents has some saying the opposite. Technology is an industry that sometimes likes to thrive on rumors of the next biggest and greatest thing, and Samsung Group’s new patents certainly threw fuel on the tech-geek fire.
The patent applications cover components and technology that could be used for tires, electric motors and systems pertaining to on-board electronic data and information sharing between the driver and the car. The evidence of Samsung Group venturing into the electric car industry on some level is quite compelling. It may also be that Samsung is just being tight-lipped about entering the car market, since their last automobile venture failed in the 90’s.
Samsung established Samsung Motors Inc. in 1994 and produced their first SM sedan in 1998. However, the timing of the SM launch was a little more than lacking with the Asian Financial Crisis hitting in 1997. The crisis hit a lot of big South Korean corporations hard and in 2000 Samsung Group sold Samsung Motors Inc. to the France’s Renault SA.
The company is now called Renault-Samsung and continues to sell automobiles under Samsung’s brand until the year 2020, at which time the agreement expires. Currently Samsung Group and Renault-Samsung are completely separate entities, and they only share the Samsung namesake. However, Samsung Group’s credit card affiliate Samsung Card Co. does still have a 19 percent stake in Renault-Samsung. Samsung Card Co. often holds stakes in many Samsung-owned companies.
Samsung’s new patent rumors are already true on some level. The group already manufactures batteries for electric cars and other electric vehicles. Samsung SDI has a deal with Mahindra & Mahindra, Chrysler, and BMW to manufacture batteries for their electric vehicles. Rumors are also saying that Tesla Motors may soon be seeking battery supplies from Samsung SDI. These are pretty impressive partners for Samsung to already have in the electric car industry.
In an era that finds people so focused on carbon footprints, renewable energy, and generally being so electronic technology driven, the lines may start to be blurred between electronic manufacturers and auto makers. So says Jae H Lee, analyst with Daiwa Securities.
The jump to manufacturing electric cars could potentially be a huge windfall for Samsung. As people become more aware of electric cars and manufacturers continuing to drive the technologies forward, most all electric car manufacturers drove their sales to an impressive increase of 300 percent in 2013. Other tech giants have also started to dabble in technologies related to electric cars or other alternative fuels and also into automated driving intelligence.
Samsung Group’s new patents may also point to a link between their medical business and how it can be applied for use into the automobile field. A patent filing from late summer shows that Samsung has been looking into vehicle control technologies that would allow a person to control a vehicle based on their current or reoccurring medical condition. The innovative patent says that it will optimize driving by controlling a vehicle which will be based on the driver’s private medical information.
Samsung Group stating they have no interest in entering the electric car market is a bit puzzling with having knowledge of what the new patents can potentially be used for. If Samsung is not jumping into the industry with both feet, it certainly looks as though some new big partnerships may be on the way. It could even mean that a handful of electric car manufacturers will soon be incorporating Samsung Group electronic patents into their next electric car model.
By Brent Matsallla