The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the increased acceptance of electronic products such as condition monitoring systems, and growing importance of technologies such as sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. 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: Catalyst condition monitoring.

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

Catalyst condition monitoring is a key innovation area in automotive

The catalytic converter monitor is a set of tests carried out by the car's electronic control module (ECM) to ascertain whether the converter is operating normally. Sensors are necessary for all monitors, including the catalyst monitor. The O2 sensors are the important sensors in the catalyst monitor scenario.

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 catalyst condition monitoring.

Key players in catalyst condition monitoring – 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 catalyst condition monitoring

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Motor 380 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 58 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 49 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 31 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 29 Unlock company profile
General Motors 29 Unlock company profile
Kia 26 Unlock company profile
Renault 25 Unlock company profile
Tata Motors 21 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 16 Unlock company profile
Continental 12 Unlock company profile
Denso 11 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Motors 10 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 10 Unlock company profile
Suzuki Motor 6 Unlock company profile
Komatsu 6 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 5 Unlock company profile
Toyota Jidosha Kogyo 5 Unlock company profile
Subaru 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota currently holds 380 filed patents in the catalyst condition monitoring segment. The company provides catalyst monitors to self-test the car’s emission systems and observe the performance of specific vehicle emissions control systems. Other companies in catalyst condition monitoring for the automotive industry are General Motors, Hyundai, and Kia.

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.