Patterns of green innovation in the automotive industry: empirical evidence from OECD countries 1990–2018

Publication Type:

Journal Article


International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, Inderscience Publishers, Volume 22, Number 4, p.450-484 (2022)



Automotive industry, Automotive technology, Automotives, Economics, Fuel cell vehicles, Fuel cells, Green innovations, Green technology, innovation system, internal combustion engines, OECD countries, Patents and inventions, Specialisation, Sustainable transition, TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE


The paper identifies patterns of specialisation in different ‘green’ technologies in the automobile industry. The study builds upon a large panel based on green patents in OECD countries from 1990 to 2018. We depict specialisation trends for three automotive technologies: green internal combustion engine (ICE) (‘brownish’), hybrid (‘greenish’), electric and fuel cell vehicles (‘green’). Only Japan shows a persistent specialisation in all the three technologies and few countries (Italy, France, Sweden, South Korea and the USA) are catching up in the cleaner technologies from 2008 onwards. The majority of the OECD countries display persistent negative levels of specialisation in all the three technological areas. The econometric analysis, based on a multinomial logit model, shows that the greening of the automotive industry is led by ‘economies of specialisation’ through private R&D investments, and by ‘learning economies’ triggered by economic policies. The complementarity of the two factors calls for a systemic approach. Copyright © 2022 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.


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