The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for enhanced driving experience, better fuel economy and speed efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as electromechanical actuators, sensors, electrification, and connected and autonomous vehicles. 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: Clutch control valves.

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

Clutch control valves is a key innovation area in automotive

A clutch delay valve is added to the clutch system of a car to standardise clutch engagement speed. Its objective is to engage the drivetrain of a vehicle without initiating shock to the drivetrain components by involving too quickly.

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 clutch control valves.

Key players in clutch control valves – 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 clutch control valves

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Schaeffler 91 Unlock company profile
General Motors 74 Unlock company profile
BorgWarner 54 Unlock company profile
Valeo 36 Unlock company profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 36 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 28 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 20 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 20 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 20 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 18 Unlock company profile
Nidec 17 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 16 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 13 Unlock company profile
Isuzu Motors 13 Unlock company profile
Mazda Motor 12 Unlock company profile
Torotrak 10 Unlock company profile
Aisin 9 Unlock company profile
Kia 8 Unlock company profile
Renault 7 Unlock company profile
Eaton 7 Unlock company profile
Magna International 6 Unlock company profile
Chery Automobile 6 Unlock company profile
Twin Disc 6 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Schaeffler is one of the leading patent filers in clutch control valves and currently holds 91 filed patents in the segment. From the traditional and self-adjusting clutch to the cutting-edge double clutch, Schaeffler continues to be the largest OE supplier in the segment. Other companies innovating in the clutch control valves segment for the automotive industry are General Motors, BorgWarner, and Valeo.

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.