The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in dual-clutch transmission (DCT) is driven by increasing demand for fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and improved performance. DCTs offer benefits such as reduced emissions, improved performance, reduced weight and complexity, and lower costs. Government funding, partnerships between automakers and suppliers, and increasing competition in the industry also contribute to the development of DCTs. The automotive industry is embracing several new technologies in DCT, including dry clutch DCTs, multi-clutch DCTs, integrated electric motors, and torque vectoring. 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: dual-clutch transmission (DCT). 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 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 Foresights, 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 handling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of 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

Dual-clutch transmission (DCT) is a key innovation area in automotive

A dual-clutch transmission is an automated manual transmission that utilizes two separate clutches for seamless shifting of gears. One clutch is used for odd gears, while the other clutch is used for even gears. This allows the transmission to pre-select the next gear while the current gear is engaged, resulting in faster and smoother shifting.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of dual-clutch transmission (DCT).

Key players in dual-clutch transmission (DCT) – 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 dual-clutch transmission

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Volvo 9 Unlock Company Profile
Eaton 10 Unlock Company Profile
Stromag 8 Unlock Company Profile
Isuzu Motors 35 Unlock Company Profile
Magna International 28 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 28 Unlock Company Profile
Melrose Industries 27 Unlock Company Profile
Toyo Tire 54 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 616 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 1556 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 9 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 41 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 81 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 122 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 24 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 8 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 116 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 71 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 9 Unlock Company Profile
JTEKT 42 Unlock Company Profile
GETRAG FORD Transmissions 21 Unlock Company Profile
Altra Industrial Motion 12 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 199 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 31 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 28 Unlock Company Profile
Poclain Hydraulics France 9 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 17 Unlock Company Profile
ZF Sachs 16 Unlock Company Profile
Yinyi Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
Getrag Getriebe- Und Zahnradfabrik Hermann Hagenme 48 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 129 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Schaeffler is the leading patent filer in dual-clutch transmission (DCT) for the automotive industry. One of their latest patents is for a novel clutch pack design that can improve the transmission's efficiency and durability. Valeo and BorgWarner are some of the other key patent filers in this space.

In terms of application diversity, Stellantis leads the pack, while Bayerische Motoren Werke and Aisin stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Poclain Hydraulics France held the top position, followed by Volvo and Yinyi Group.

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.