The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need for improving vehicle efficiency, reducing emissions, enhancing performance, and growing importance of technologies such as high-voltage batteries, and control algorithms. 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 Electric vehicles in automotive: HEV drivetrainsBuy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over one million patents to analyze innovation intensity for the automotive industry, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

HEV drivetrains is a key innovation area in electric vehicles

HEV drivetrains refer to the drivetrains used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). These drivetrains consist of various components such as engines, transmission systems, power transmitting devices, and multiple-speed gearboxes. The purpose of these drivetrains is to efficiently transmit power from the engine to the driven axle, while allowing for variable gear ratios and separating the engine block from the gearbox housing.

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 HEV drivetrains.

Key players in HEV drivetrains – 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 HEV drivetrains

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Volvo 77 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 104 Unlock Company Profile
Magna International 49 Unlock Company Profile
NTT 221 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 61 Unlock Company Profile
Melrose Industries 64 Unlock Company Profile
QinetiQ Group 58 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Motors 134 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 414 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 185 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 51 Unlock Company Profile
NSK 38 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 158 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 224 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 161 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 119 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 84 Unlock Company Profile
NTN 94 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 46 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 437 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 66 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 56 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 74 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 435 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 133 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 46 Unlock Company Profile
JTEKT 49 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 133 Unlock Company Profile
Allison Transmission 43 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 71 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 115 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 144 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 206 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Honda Motor is the key patent filer in HEV drivetrains. In certain Honda HEVs, electric motors are used to power the rear wheels, providing all-wheel-drive capability. This technology enhances traction and stability while contributing to efficiency. Honda incorporates thermal management systems to regulate the temperature of critical components within the drivetrain, ensuring optimal operating conditions. Toyota Motors and Porsche Automobil are some of the other patent filers in HEV drivetrains.

In terms of application diversity, Hitachi leads the pack, while NTN and Komatsu stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, BAE Systems held the top position, followed by QinetiQ and Komatsu.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Electric Vehicles (EV).

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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.