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 ECUsBuy 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 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

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Volvo 197 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 77 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 392 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 82 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Motors 158 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 3962 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 444 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 165 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 1596 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 840 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 65 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 1414 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha Motor 94 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 338 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 131 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 58 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 165 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 783 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 63 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 69 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 146 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 404 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 832 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 67 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 281 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 107 Unlock Company Profile
Allison Transmission 63 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 950 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 1239 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 169 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 221 Unlock Company Profile
KPIT Technologies 82 Unlock Company Profile

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).

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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.