The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is 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 1.7 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in automotive: catalyst condition monitoringBuy 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

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 20+ 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 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 catalyst condition monitoring

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
CNH Industrial 6 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 21 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Motors 15 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 418 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 32 Unlock Company Profile
Zhengzhou Coal Mining Machinery Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
E.ON 4 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 57 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 14 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 31 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 12 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 38 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 7 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 6 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 48 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 32 Unlock Company Profile
Centro Ricerche Fiat 2 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 3 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 11 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 10 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 18 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 50 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 61 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 34 Unlock Company Profile
C.R.F. Societa' Consortile Per Azioni 3 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota is the top patent filer 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 leading patent filers in catalyst condition monitoring for the automotive industry include Ford Motor, Hyundai, Kia, and Porsche Automobil.

In terms of application diversity, Sumitomo Heavy Industries held the top position, while Caterpillar and Subaru stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Tata Motors leads the pack, followed by Sumitomo Heavy Industries and Subaru.

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.