The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by safety, environmental regulations, and efficiency, and the growing importance of technologies such as dual motor controls and microcontrollers. 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 ECUs. Buy the report here.
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 ECUs is a key innovation area in electric vehicles
HEV ECUs, or hybrid electric vehicle electronic control units, are computerized systems that control and manage the various components of a hybrid electric vehicle. These components typically include the internal combustion engine, electric motor, transmission, and battery system.
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 ECUs.
Key players in HEV ECUs – 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 ECUs
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Toyota Motors is the leading patent filer in HEV ECUs. Toyota has continuously improved its Toyota Hybrid System (THS), which includes a sophisticated ECU that coordinates the operation of the internal combustion engine, electric motor(s), and high-voltage battery. Innovations in THS have contributed to smoother transitions between power sources and improved overall efficiency. Hyundai Motor and Ford Motor are some of the other key patent filers in HEV ECUs.
In terms of application diversity, Sumitomo Heavy Industries leads the pack, while Hitachi and Komatsu stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Sumitomo held the top position, followed by Allison Transmission 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).