The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by safety, reliability, high performance electrical connectors and thermal management, and growing importance of technologies such as ethernet and USB type C connectors. 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: Dustproof electric connectors.

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

Dustproof electric connectors is a key innovation area in automotive

An electrical connector is a repeatable device interconnection that withstands the presence of contaminants as dust, while retaining substantial electrical performance characteristics. It provides sufficient mechanical integrity when connected for use in load bearing and torque transmitting applications and prevents or retards contaminant accumulation. Electrical connectors are categorised into three types depending upon their termination ends as cable/wire-to-board connectors, board-to-board connectors and cable/wire-to-cable/wire connectors.

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 dustproof electric connectors.

Key players in dustproof electric connectors – 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 dustproof electric connectors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Sumitomo Electric Industries 537 Unlock company profile
Yazaki 406 Unlock company profile
TE Connectivity 205 Unlock company profile
Aptiv 95 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 63 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 55 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 51 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 48 Unlock company profile
Koch Industries 39 Unlock company profile
BorgWarner 37 Unlock company profile
Kia 33 Unlock company profile
Furukawa Electric 31 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 30 Unlock company profile
Auto Network Gijutsu Kenkyusho 30 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 27 Unlock company profile
J.S.T. 24 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 21 Unlock company profile
J.S.T. 19 Unlock company profile
Valeo Japan 18 Unlock company profile
Continental 17 Unlock company profile
MD Elektronik 16 Unlock company profile
Shanghai dianba new energy technology 15 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Limitada 15 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 14 Unlock company profile
Tyco Electronics Amp 14 Unlock company profile
Erich Jaeger 14 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 14 Unlock company profile
Valeo 14 Unlock company profile
Draexlmaier Lisa 14 Unlock company profile
Iriso Electronics 13 Unlock company profile
Rosenberger Hochfrequenztechnik 12 Unlock company profile
Amphenol 12 Unlock company profile
Aisin 12 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 12 Unlock company profile
Jaeger Erich 12 Unlock company profile
Korea Electric Terminal 10 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical 9 Unlock company profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 9 Unlock company profile
Denso 9 Unlock company profile
Webasto 8 Unlock company profile
Aviation Industry Corporation of China 8 Unlock company profile
JAC Motors 8 Unlock company profile
Eaton 8 Unlock company profile
Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group 8 Unlock company profile
Auto-Kabel 7 Unlock company profile
LG Display 7 Unlock company profile
Nexans 7 Unlock company profile
Thales 7 Unlock company profile
Keihin 7 Unlock company profile
TI Fluid Systems 6 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Sumitomo Electric Industries is a key player in the dustproof electric connectors innovation area. It provides a wide range of connectors mounted on printed circuit boards (PCBs) connecting wires to the engine control units. It also provides high-frequency connectors, sealed-type connectors and waterproof connectors. Yazaki, TE Connectivity, Aptiv and Toyota Motor are the other key players.

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.