The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need to enhance driving experience and safety, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, Internet of Things, robotics and cloud computing. 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 brakes. Buy 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 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

Disc brakes is a key innovation area in automotive

Disc brakes rotate with the wheels, and brake pads attached to the brake callipers clamp on these rotors to stop or slow the wheels. The friction created by the brake pads pushing against the rotors converts kinetic energy into thermal energy.

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

Key players in disc brakes – 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 brakes

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Nuova FourB 226 Unlock Company Profile
Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies 129 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 129 Unlock Company Profile
Stella Vermogensverwaltungs 125 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 113 Unlock Company Profile
Shimano 89 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 87 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 79 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor Group 76 Unlock Company Profile
SAF-HOLLAND 70 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 41 Unlock Company Profile
Campagnolo 40 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 31 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Steel 29 Unlock Company Profile
AB Volvo 27 Unlock Company Profile
Hendrickson USA 27 Unlock Company Profile
PERFORMANCE FRICTION 24 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 21 Unlock Company Profile
Sun Star 21 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 20 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 20 Unlock Company Profile
GUD Holdings 20 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 20 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 19 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 19 Unlock Company Profile
PE Automotive 17 Unlock Company Profile
Endurance Adler 15 Unlock Company Profile
Alcon Components 15 Unlock Company Profile
SRAM 13 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 12 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 11 Unlock Company Profile
COSCO Shipping Holdings 11 Unlock Company Profile
Akebono Brake Industry 11 Unlock Company Profile
SAF-HOLLAND 10 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO Holdings 10 Unlock Company Profile
Takano 9 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 9 Unlock Company Profile
Namyang Industry 9 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Automotive Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
Fritz Winter Eisengiesserei 8 Unlock Company Profile
GUSTAV MAGENWIRTH 7 Unlock Company Profile
Kyung Chang Industrial 7 Unlock Company Profile
Toyo Tire 7 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha Motor 7 Unlock Company Profile
Seohan Industrial 7 Unlock Company Profile
Lingotes Especiales 7 Unlock Company Profile
Amsted Industries 6 Unlock Company Profile
PureForge 6 Unlock Company Profile
Eaton 6 Unlock Company Profile
Performance Systems 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Nuova FourB is one of the top companies in the disc brake segment, having filed 226 patents. The company creates, develops, manufactures, and sells brake discs, callipers, wheel-side modules, and braking systems. Some of the few companies that have filed significant patents in the disc brake segment include Porsche Automobil, Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies, and Robert Bosch Stiftung.

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.