The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need to increase the life expectancy of an engine, the high-performance standards of any vehicle, and growing importance of technologies such as sulphur-free lubricant-additive solutions. In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.2 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Automotive: Anti-wear lubricants.

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 stabilising 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.

290+ 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 619,000 patents, there are 290+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, eccentric crankshaft gears, retarder brake system, and closed-circuit liquid cooling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Bio-fuel ICEs, electromagnetic valve actuators, and road friction estimation are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are tyre bead fillers and vehicle turbochargers, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

Anti-wear lubricants is a key innovation area in automotive

The anti-wear additives in a lubricant system work to stop abrasion. These additives function by creating a sacrificial coating on a metal surface when the lubricating oil is no longer able to produce the required film thickness thereby preventing asperities on the metal surfaces from coming into direct contact.

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 anti-wear lubricants.

Key players in anti-wear lubricants – a disruptive innovation in the automotive industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to anti-wear lubricants

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Taiho Kogyo 132 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 88 Unlock company profile
JTEKT 62 Unlock company profile
NTT 55 Unlock company profile
Kyodo Yushi 53 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 52 Unlock company profile
Idemitsu Kosan 45 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 40 Unlock company profile
Denso 26 Unlock company profile
Kia 25 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 22 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 20 Unlock company profile
JX Nippon Oil and Energy 19 Unlock company profile
ENEOS Holdings 18 Unlock company profile
KYB 17 Unlock company profile
NOK 17 Unlock company profile
Daikin Industries 17 Unlock company profile
Oiles 16 Unlock company profile
Infineum International 15 Unlock company profile
RAG-Stiftung 14 Unlock company profile
Klueber Lubrication Muenchen and 14 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 14 Unlock company profile
Tsubakimoto Chain 14 Unlock company profile
Cerion 14 Unlock company profile
Isuzu Motors 13 Unlock company profile
Aisin 13 Unlock company profile
Kobe Steel 11 Unlock company profile
Harmonic Drive Systems 10 Unlock company profile
Nippon Oil 10 Unlock company profile
NGK Spark Plug 9 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 7 Unlock company profile
Toyota Jidosha Kogyo 6 Unlock company profile
Shell 6 Unlock company profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 5 Unlock company profile
Toyota Boshoku 5 Unlock company profile
Magna International 5 Unlock company profile
Baker Hughes 5 Unlock company profile
Dow 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Taiho Kogyo is one of the leading patent filers in anti-wear lubricants. The company has used the contact Lamba Ratio to come up with a method for accurately assessing mixed/boundary friction in a lubricated contact when both ZDDP anti-wear additives and extreme-pressure (EP) additives are used in vehicles. Some other key patent filers in the innovation area include Toyota Motor, JTEKT, NTT, Kyodo Yushi, etc.

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


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.