The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for enhanced driving experience, fuel efficiency, emission standards and growing importance of technologies such as electric, connected and autonomous vehicles. 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 Environmental sustainability in Automotive: EV buses.

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, EV discharge prediction, fuel cell ion exchange membranes, and hydrogen ICE fuel tanks are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. V2G smart metering, silicon-air batteries, and zeolites for exhaust filtering are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are HEV propulsion systems and wind-powered vehicles, which are now well established in the industry.   

Innovation S-curve for EV buses in the automotive industry 

EV buses is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability 

An electric bus is a type of battery-powered vehicle that is powered by electricity rather than diesel or gasoline. The electric bus employs an electric motor to run and uses electricity stored in batteries on the bus.

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 EV buses. 

Key players in EV buses – 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 EV buses

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Proterra 180 Unlock company profile
Bombardier 113 Unlock company profile
Siemens 92 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 91 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 89 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 70 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 40 Unlock company profile
Arendals Fossekompani 38 Unlock company profile
Kia 25 Unlock company profile
Furrer+Frey 24 Unlock company profile
WiTricity 22 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 21 Unlock company profile
CNH Industrial 19 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 13 Unlock company profile
Phoenix Contact 12 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 12 Unlock company profile
Hexagon 11 Unlock company profile
Sofibol SCA 10 Unlock company profile
Schunk Bahn- Und Industrietechnik 9 Unlock company profile
Rosenbauer International 8 Unlock company profile
Daifuku 8 Unlock company profile
PVI 8 Unlock company profile
Mojo Mobility 7 Unlock company profile
NFI Group 7 Unlock company profile
Sogrepar 7 Unlock company profile
IoTecha 6 Unlock company profile
ABB 6 Unlock company profile
BYD 6 Unlock company profile
Hill & Dale 6 Unlock company profile
Motex Products 6 Unlock company profile
Johnson Controls International 5 Unlock company profile
Nidec 5 Unlock company profile
Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles 5 Unlock company profile
LS Electric 5 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 5 Unlock company profile
Lohr Industrie 5 Unlock company profile
Aleees Eco Ark (Cayman) 5 Unlock company profile
Aleees Eco Ark 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Proterra is one of the leading companies in the EV bus segment, having filed 180 patent applications. The company’s most popular patent is for a battery pack mounted beneath the bus floor, allowing the floor inside the bus between the front and rear axles to be substantially flat. Toshiba, Hitachi, and Siemens have also filed patents for EV buses.

To further understand how environmental sustainability is 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.