The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by enhanced driving experience, fuel efficiency, and engine performance, and the growing prevalence of technologies such as electromechanical actuators, sensors, air brakes, electrification, and connected and autonomous vehicles. 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: aerodynamic suspensionsBuy 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 Foresight, 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 handing are useful technologies that are in the early stages of wider 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 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

Aerodynamic suspensions are a key innovation area in automotive

Air suspension fitted in short wheelbase trucks helps them in dealing with harsher road conditions and reduces the bounce when the vehicle is empty. The air suspension considers the load of the vehicle as well as speed to adjust the height of suspension and helps in handling the corners at higher speeds.

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 aerodynamic suspensions.

Key players in aerodynamic suspensions – 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 aerodynamic suspensions

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Volvo 10 Unlock Company Profile
Aston Martin Lagonda Global 16 Unlock Company Profile
Magna International 31 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 40 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 121 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 32 Unlock Company Profile
Ferrari 41 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin 14 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 121 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 42 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 169 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 32 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 23 Unlock Company Profile
McLaren Group 21 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 63 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 38 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 499 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 304 Unlock Company Profile
ZF Commercial Vehicle Control Systems India 17 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 39 Unlock Company Profile
Burelle 139 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 101 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 77 Unlock Company Profile
Flex-N-Gate 14 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 10 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 64 Unlock Company Profile
Rochling Automotive 16 Unlock Company Profile
AVL List 11 Unlock Company Profile
Magna Exteriors 131 Unlock Company Profile
Multimatic 25 Unlock Company Profile
McMurtry Automotive 17 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Porsche Automobil is one of the leading innovators in aerodynamic suspensions. The company has developed an active aerodynamic technology that includes retractable spoilers and an air-spring suspension chassis, which allows the car to be lowered at high speeds. Other companies innovating in this technology domain are General Motors, Hyundai, and Burelle.

In terms of application diversity, Mazda Motor held the top position, while Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Ford Motor stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Multimatic leads the pack, followed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Volvo.

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.