The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by fuel efficiency, engine performance and safety standards, and growing importance of technologies such as electromechanical actuators, air brakes etc. 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: Auto-transmission lubrication circuits.

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

Auto-transmission lubrication circuits is a key innovation area in automotive

ATF, also known as automatic transmission fluid, is used to lubricate the clutches and gears in the automatic gearbox. The transmission oil pump, which is powered by the engine, pressurises the ATF. The clutches and bands in the transmission are engaged and disengaged by the pressurised fluid.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of auto-transmission lubrication circuits.

Key players in auto-transmission lubrication circuits – 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 auto-transmission lubrication circuits

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Aisin 62 Unlock company profile
Allison Transmission Holdings 58 Unlock company profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 57 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 53 Unlock company profile
Mazda Motor 42 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 41 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 38 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 36 Unlock company profile
BorgWarner 31 Unlock company profile
General Motors 29 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 19 Unlock company profile
Schaeffler 17 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 16 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 12 Unlock company profile
Kia 12 Unlock company profile
Carraro 11 Unlock company profile
Komatsu 9 Unlock company profile
Torotrak 9 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 7 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 5 Unlock company profile
Baoding Innovation Great Wall Asset Management Company 5 Unlock company profile
Magna International 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

One of the top patent filers in the auto-transmission lubrication circuits innovation area is Aisin. The company recently launched automatic transmission fluids for applications in Mazda and Subaru. The transmission fluids help in reducing fuel consumption and maximising the performance and longevity of the transmission system. Allison Transmission and Zeppelin-Stiftung are a few further significant patent filers in the innovation area.

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.