The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need for safety, comfort, reduced emissions, regulatory requirements, and enhanced vehicle performance, and growing importance of technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and connectivity. In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.7 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in automotive: adaptive active suspension. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

300+ innovations will shape the automotive industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the automotive industry using innovation intensity models built on over one million patents, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, integrated multi-motor drivetrains, electric power steering (EPS), and post-collision handling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Variable compression engines, V2V distance monitoring, and turbocharger shaft bearings are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among the maturing innovation areas are kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and plasma-jet ignition, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

Adaptive active suspension is a key innovation area in automotive

Adaptive active suspension refers to a type of suspension system in vehicles that utilizes advanced technology to adjust and adapt to varying road conditions in real time. The system is designed to optimize comfort, stability, and handling by continuously monitoring inputs such as vehicle speed, acceleration, and road conditions, and making quick adjustments to the suspension components accordingly. By adapting to changing conditions, adaptive active suspension enhances ride quality and improves the overall performance and safety of the vehicle. GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.

According to GlobalData, there are 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of adaptive active suspension.

Key players in adaptive active suspension – a disruptive innovation in the automotive industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to adaptive active suspension

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Volvo 26 Unlock Company Profile
Bridgestone 21 Unlock Company Profile
Fox Factory 17 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 13 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 23 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 140 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 174 Unlock Company Profile
Showa Sangyo 20 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 89 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 29 Unlock Company Profile
Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies 41 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 21 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 63 Unlock Company Profile
Grammer 14 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 92 Unlock Company Profile
Haldex 13 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 69 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 25 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 220 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 31 Unlock Company Profile
Bose 17 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 52 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 77 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 131 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 36 Unlock Company Profile
KYB 22 Unlock Company Profile
Boler 25 Unlock Company Profile
ClearMotion 16 Unlock Company Profile
Aktv8 20 Unlock Company Profile
Clearmotion Acquisition I 18 Unlock Company Profile
Stella Vermogensverwaltungs 33 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 50 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Porsche Automobile is one of the leading patent filers in adaptive active suspension. Posche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is Porsche's proprietary adaptive suspension system. It allows drivers to select between various driving modes, including Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus, which adjust the suspension settings to provide a balance between ride comfort and performance. PASM utilizes sensors to continuously monitor driving conditions and road surfaces, adapting the suspension damping rates accordingly. Some Porsche models come equipped with adaptive air suspension. The adaptive air suspension system allows the driver to adjust ride height, providing extra ground clearance when needed and lowering the vehicle for improved aerodynamics and handling at higher speeds. Toyota Motor, Ford Motor, and Tata Motors are some of the other key patent filers in adaptive active suspension.

In terms of application diversity, Nissan Motor leads the pack, while Aisin and Hitachi stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Dana held the top position, followed by Bolerand KYB.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.