The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for enhanced driving experience, emission standards, fuel efficiency and the 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 charging connectors. Buy the report here.

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 charging connectors in the automotive industry

EV charging connectors is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability 

EV charging connectors are the end-point connectors that are attached to the charging cable and batteries in an electric vehicle, to charge the batteries which power the electric motor. These connectors come in various specifications, which might change according to the electric vehicle's batteries.

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 110+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of EV charging connectors.

Key players in EV charging connectors – 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 charging connectors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Sumitomo Electric Industries 411 Unlock company profile
Yazaki 349 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 347 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 312 Unlock company profile
Phoenix Contact E-Mobility 282 Unlock company profile
TE Connectivity 222 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 186 Unlock company profile
Tokai Rika 140 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 136 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 127 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 95 Unlock company profile
Kiekert 92 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 90 Unlock company profile
Aptiv 88 Unlock company profile
General Motors 87 Unlock company profile
Legrand 79 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 78 Unlock company profile
Kia 78 Unlock company profile
NEC 67 Unlock company profile
Lear 67 Unlock company profile
Phoenix Contact 67 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 66 Unlock company profile
Schneider Electric 39 Unlock company profile
Siemens 38 Unlock company profile
Renault 38 Unlock company profile
Murakami 37 Unlock company profile
BYD 35 Unlock company profile
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group 34 Unlock company profile
LS Electric 33 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 31 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 29 Unlock company profile
Furukawa Electric 29 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 28 Unlock company profile
Samsung SDI 25 Unlock company profile
Valeo 24 Unlock company profile
Huf Hulsbeck & Furst 24 Unlock company profile
Aviation Industry Corporation of China 23 Unlock company profile
Suzuki Motor 23 Unlock company profile
Tesla 22 Unlock company profile
Nifco 20 Unlock company profile
Hirschmann Automotive 18 Unlock company profile
Subaru 18 Unlock company profile
Continental 18 Unlock company profile
Prysmian 18 Unlock company profile
LG 17 Unlock company profile
Korea Electric Terminal 17 Unlock company profile
Nio 17 Unlock company profile
SolarEdge Technologies 16 Unlock company profile
Easee 15 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Motors 15 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Sumitomo Electric Industries is one of the top companies with 411 EV charging connector patents. One of the patents filed by the company is for a fibre connection structure that includes an optical connector, module, and assembly. Yazaki, Porche Automobil, and Toyota are among the other companies that have filed patents for EV charging connectors.

To further understand how environmental sustainability is 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.