Car and truck manufacturers play a key role in German innovation activity. A good 47 per cent of patent applications filed by legal entities (companies) with the DPMA in 2016 concerned motor vehicles. It is also possible to identify the technologies focused on by research in the automotive sector, with the majority of patent applications relating to electronics and digitisation. Further analyses were carried out on the spatial distribution of applications and on the socio-demographic structure of inventors in 2016, supplemented by a time series analysis starting in 2005 for selected factors. These show, for example, that motor vehicle companies have increased their patent performance by about 70 percent since 2005, while the total number of applications has stagnated.