The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the demand for connected vehicles and real-time tracking systems and urgent need for road vehicle safety systems, and growing importance of technologies such as friction braking and electromechanical braking. 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: Disc brake actuators.

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, resilient spoke wheels, auto-transmission lubrication circuits, and ignition switching engines are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Engine purge actuators, electro-dynamic braking, and adsorptive vapour recovery system estimation are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are collision avoidance braking control system and direct injection type engines, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

Disc brake actuators is a key innovation area in Automotive

Brake actuators and diaphragm actuators are key components of a braking system as they convert the pressure exerted on the brake pedal into braking force. Diaphragm actuators ensure that the pressure generated is applied on the brake callipers, thereby pressing the brake pads against the brake discs.

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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of disc brake actuators.

Key players in disc brake actuators – 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 disc brake actuators

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hitachi 674 Unlock company profile
Mando 450 Unlock company profile
NTT 375 Unlock company profile
Continental 342 Unlock company profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 341 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 333 Unlock company profile
Stella Vermogensverwaltungs 305 Unlock company profile
Aisin 270 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Mobis 259 Unlock company profile
Akebono Brake Industry 226 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 183 Unlock company profile
Cummins 113 Unlock company profile
Haldex 112 Unlock company profile
Schaeffler 112 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 108 Unlock company profile
Nuova FourB 106 Unlock company profile
BPW Bergische Achsen 100 Unlock company profile
COSCO Shipping Holdings 100 Unlock company profile
ZF Commercial Vehicle Control Systems India 65 Unlock company profile
Siemens 64 Unlock company profile
Tokai 49 Unlock company profile
Safran 45 Unlock company profile
JTEKT 40 Unlock company profile
Keyang Electric Machinery 40 Unlock company profile
IMS Gear Holding 38 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 34 Unlock company profile
Shimano 30 Unlock company profile
BYD 24 Unlock company profile
Kia 22 Unlock company profile
Gatekeeper Systems 22 Unlock company profile
Brose Fahrzeugteile 20 Unlock company profile
Sangsin Brake 19 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 18 Unlock company profile
Helen of Troy 16 Unlock company profile
SAF-HOLLAND 15 Unlock company profile
Dellner Brakes 14 Unlock company profile
LG Display 14 Unlock company profile
Valeo 13 Unlock company profile
INFAC 13 Unlock company profile
Interroll Holding 12 Unlock company profile
IMS Gear 12 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Motors 11 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 11 Unlock company profile
KYB 11 Unlock company profile
Emerson Electric 11 Unlock company profile
MITSUBA 10 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 10 Unlock company profile
Mazda Motor 10 Unlock company profile
Kymco Motors 9 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 9 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hitachi is a key player in the disc brake actuators innovation area. The company has manufactured new automotive disc brake pad set and is developing three electronic control technologies for chassis subsystems to improve safety, security, and comfort in the era of autonomous driving. For the brakes, an electro-mechanical brake (“Smart Brake”) is being developed that is expected to improve vehicle safety and economy using brake-by-wire for high responsiveness and precise control. Robert Bosch, Continental, NTT, Mando and Zeppelin-Stiftung are the other major key players 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.