The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need for comfort, safety and enhanced vehicle performance and fuel efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as air suspension, self-leveling technology, and magnetic ride control technology. 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: adjustable shock absorbers. 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

Adjustable shock absorbers is a key innovation area in automotive

Adjustable shock absorbers, commonly found in vehicles such as cars and trucks, serve as components designed to mitigate shocks or vibrations in mechanical systems. Their function involves the conversion of kinetic energy into heat, which is then dissipated through a hydraulic system. The unique feature of these shock absorbers lies in their capacity to modify the damping level, enabling precise customization of the suspension system to suit various driving conditions.

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 adjustable shock absorbers.

Key players in adjustable shock absorbers – 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 adjustable shock absorbers

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Chudenko 23 Unlock Company Profile
Bridgestone 10 Unlock Company Profile
Fox Factory 11 Unlock Company Profile
BRP 4 Unlock Company Profile
Soucy International 2 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 3 Unlock Company Profile
HL Mando 9 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Showa Sangyo 38 Unlock Company Profile
Nifco 7 Unlock Company Profile
Toyo Tire 3 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 9 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 142 Unlock Company Profile
NAURA Technology Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 84 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 13 Unlock Company Profile
Tenneco 75 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 6 Unlock Company Profile
ROM ACQUISITION 2 Unlock Company Profile
Takako 3 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing West Industries 15 Unlock Company Profile
KYB 89 Unlock Company Profile
Vibracoustic 4 Unlock Company Profile
Sistemi Sospensioni 9 Unlock Company Profile
ClearMotion 5 Unlock Company Profile
BeijingWest Industries 15 Unlock Company Profile
Hangzhou Huning Elevator Parts 2 Unlock Company Profile
FTC Solar 10 Unlock Company Profile
Ohlins Racing 4 Unlock Company Profile
Firestone Tire & Rubber 5 Unlock Company Profile
Kendrion (Villingen) 6 Unlock Company Profile
Pierer Konzerngesellschaft mbH 4 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 25 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hitachi is one of the key patent filers in adjustable shock absorbers. The company has been involved in the development of electronically controlled damping systems that use advanced sensors and control algorithms to continuously adjust the damping rates of shock absorbers in real time. The technology allows for precise and rapid adjustments to adapt to changing road conditions and driving scenarios, providing a smoother and safer ride. Hitachi has focused on integrating advanced sensors into their shock absorbers and suspension systems. These sensors monitor various parameters such as vehicle speed, wheel movement, steering angle, and road conditions, enabling more precise and responsive adjustments. KYB and Tenneco are some of the other key patent filers in adjustable shock absorbers.

In terms of application diversity, Firestone Tire & Rubber leads the pack, while ClearMotion and Takako stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Bridgestone held the top position, followed by ThyssenKrupp and FTC Solar.

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.