The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in dual-drive electric propulsion is driven by increased demand for fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, advancements in battery technology, power electronics, and control systems. The rising demand for electric vehicles, government funding for research and development, and partnerships between automakers and suppliers are further driving innovation. Silicon carbide (SiC) power electronics, integrated electric motors and gearboxes, torque vectoring control systems, and wireless charging systems are key technologies in dual-drive electric propulsion for the automotive industry. 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-drive electric propulsion. 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-drive electric propulsion is a key innovation area in automotive

Dual-drive electric propulsion refers to a type of electric propulsion system that uses more than one electric motor to power a vehicle.

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 40 companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of dual-drive electric propulsion.

Key players in dual-drive electric propulsion – 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-drive electric propulsion

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Kymco Motors 27 Unlock Company Profile
Stanley Black & Decker 5 Unlock Company Profile
BRP 9 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 31 Unlock Company Profile
Bajaj Auto 24 Unlock Company Profile
Grupo Bimbo 5 Unlock Company Profile
Danfoss 6 Unlock Company Profile
Husqvarna 10 Unlock Company Profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 5 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
Reckitt Benckiser Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Bonfiglioli Riduttori 5 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sandvik 29 Unlock Company Profile
Kwang Yang Motor 14 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 4 Unlock Company Profile
Arcimoto 7 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 29 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 188 Unlock Company Profile
Acciona 4 Unlock Company Profile
Proterra 20 Unlock Company Profile
Briggs & Stratton 5 Unlock Company Profile
Yanmar 5 Unlock Company Profile
Polaris 4 Unlock Company Profile
Kubota 36 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 5 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 20 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 17 Unlock Company Profile
Polaris 9 Unlock Company Profile
Inboard Technology 4 Unlock Company Profile
Radio Flyer 13 Unlock Company Profile
Kor Ecologic 4 Unlock Company Profile
Divergent Technologies 4 Unlock Company Profile
DD Dannar 10 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Jukogyo Kabushiki Kaisha 12 Unlock Company Profile
ZEWAY 4 Unlock Company Profile
Grab 5 Unlock Company Profile
Globe (Jiangsu) 4 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Honda Motor is the leading patent filer in dual-drive electric propulsion for the automotive industry. One of their latest patents is for a system and method for controlling torque distribution in an electric vehicle. This system can optimize torque distribution for different driving conditions, such as accelerating, cornering, and braking. Some other key patent filers in this space are Kubota and Toyota Motor

In terms of application diversity, Proterra leads the pack, while Sandvik and Grab stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Proterra held the top position, followed by Sandvik and Radio Flyer.

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.