The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the use of lightweight suspension material, electrification, vehicular comfort and safety, and growing importance of technologies such as magnetic dampers, active curve tilting and hydraulic roll control. 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: Electronic controlled suspension. 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 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

Electronic controlled suspension is a key innovation area in automotive

The purpose of the electronic controlled suspension is to adapt a car’s suspension into the driving conditions by considering the speed, road surface, cornering, stopping requirements and acceleration. It helps in modifying the shocks and/or struts electronically to ensure safety and driving comfort.

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 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of electronic controlled suspension.

Key players in electronic controlled suspension – 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 electronic controlled suspension

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hitachi 223 Unlock Company Profile
KYB 155 Unlock Company Profile
Tenneco 145 Unlock Company Profile
Fox Factory Holding 113 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing West Industries 84 Unlock Company Profile
Hendrickson USA 79 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 78 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 75 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 70 Unlock Company Profile
Haldex 54 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 52 Unlock Company Profile
Oshkosh 49 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 39 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 39 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 38 Unlock Company Profile
BeijingWest Industries 37 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Mobis 36 Unlock Company Profile
Grammer 36 Unlock Company Profile
ClearMotion 34 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 34 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 33 Unlock Company Profile
Firestone Tire & Rubber 33 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 32 Unlock Company Profile
Bridgestone 29 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 23 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha Motor 23 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 22 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor Group 22 Unlock Company Profile
Aktv8 20 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 20 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 19 Unlock Company Profile
Mando 17 Unlock Company Profile
BRP 15 Unlock Company Profile
ZF Commercial Vehicle Control Systems India 13 Unlock Company Profile
Stella Vermogensverwaltungs 13 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 13 Unlock Company Profile
J C Bamford Excavators 11 Unlock Company Profile
MSI DEFENSE SOLUTIONS 11 Unlock Company Profile
SAF-HOLLAND 11 Unlock Company Profile
AB Volvo 10 Unlock Company Profile
Chudenko 10 Unlock Company Profile
Sistemi Sospensioni 10 Unlock Company Profile
Benteler International 9 Unlock Company Profile
Lucid Group 8 Unlock Company Profile 7 Unlock Company Profile
EnPro Industries 7 Unlock Company Profile
WEBER-HYDRAULIK 7 Unlock Company Profile
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Toegepast-Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek 7 Unlock Company Profile
Zhengzhou Yutong Bus 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hydac System 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hitachi is a key player in the electronic controlled suspension innovation area. The company has developed new semi-active suspension electronic control technology that reduces vehicle vibrations while driving and during changes in vehicle position while turning on curves by approximately 10%. The technology helps in improving both driving comfort and steering stability. KYB, Tenneco and Fox Factory are some of 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.

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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.