The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the future limited reserve of fossil fuels, a deteriorating environment, and growing importance of technologies such as hydrogen injection systems for internal combustion engines and engine calibrators. 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: Bio-fuel ICEs.

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

Bio-fuel ICEs is a key innovation area in automotive

Biodiesel increases the fuel's cetane number and enhances fuel lubricity. The engine starts quicker and has less ignition delay when the cetane number is higher. Diesel engines rely on the fuel's lubricity to keep moving parts from wearing out too soon.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of bio-fuel ICEs.

Key players in bio-fuel ICEs – 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 bio-fuel ICEs

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Porsche Automobil Holding 37 Unlock company profile
Winterthur Gas & Diesel 23 Unlock company profile
Dewey Electronics 23 Unlock company profile
Westport Power 14 Unlock company profile
Doosan 8 Unlock company profile
Orbital 8 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 6 Unlock company profile
Suzuki Motor 6 Unlock company profile
Motonic 5 Unlock company profile
YANMAR POWER TECHNOLOGY 5 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Porsche SE is one of the leading patent filers in bio-fuel ICE. It is working on synthetic fuel to make ICE cars as clean as EVs. Some other major patent filers in the industry are Winterthur Gas & Diesel, Dewey Electronics, and Westport Power.

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.