This morning/afternoon I intend to look very briefly at the nature of patents and how they can be used as an integral part of the product development process. In particular I will look at three different forms of power and power storage currently being developed. These are lithium batteries, fuel cells and hybrid Vehicles.Within this paper I have looked at these developments in electric vehicle technology by using patent abstracts from 40 different issuing authorities over a five year period. To do this I have searched on-line using Derwent's World Patent Index (DWPI), a collection of 16 million patents abstracts going back some 40 years, and have used the various statistical analysis tools that are available with the file. From this analysis I have identified which companies are the major players in the development of each of the technologies I have focused upon.My conclusions will show that published patent applications are the largest available single source of technical information in the world, giving a comprehensive coverage of all technical areas, providing details of existing technology, thus saving money on repeated research, as well as giving a insight into the activities of your closest competitors, or equally as important companies who you didn't recognise as working in the same field of technology as you! In particular I believe that this analysis will show the strength of Japanese companies in the electric vehicle technology market.