Electrifying the automotive industry: The geography and governance of R&D collaboration
Journal article, 2014

The automotive industry is subject to various pressures that may result in a transition to more eco-friendly technologies. Electrified vehicles represent a potential means to shift road transport onto a new technological path. However, incumbent automakers face several challenges related to vehicle electrification. One challenge is that vehicle electrification requires competences different to those associated with the internal combustion engine. Automakers can access competences and knowledge that can benefit innovation via collaborative R&Dwith external organisations. This paper uses patent and bibliometric data to examine geographical and organisational aspects of R&D collaboration in the automotive industry. We distinguish between two modes of organisation for R&D collaborations between automakers and external partners (hierarchies and networks) and compare R&D collaborations for electric vehicle technologies with traditional R&D partnerships. We show that automakers collaborate with foreign partners when they are linked viahierarchies and are embedded in local R&D networks with academic partners.

Open innovation

Electric vehicles

Automotive industry

R&D networks


Steven Sarasini

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions

22104224 (eISSN)

Vol. 13 109-128

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Other Environmental Engineering

Environmental Sciences



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