The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by cost, engine performance, fuel efficiency, and durability, 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: Fuel cell-battery combination.  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 environmental sustainability in the automotive industry 

Fuel cell-battery combination is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability 

A hydrogen-based fuel cell produces electricity to charge batteries in vehicles in addition to supplying energy to the drivetrain. Like lithium batteries, hydrogen itself serves as an energy carrier and storage mechanism.

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 140+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of fuel cell-battery combination. 

Key players in fuel cell-battery combination – 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 fuel cell-battery combination

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Motor 1047 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 287 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 273 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 235 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 200 Unlock company profile
General Motors 167 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 143 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 134 Unlock company profile
Kia 133 Unlock company profile
Samsung SDI 102 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 77 Unlock company profile
Kyocera 74 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 71 Unlock company profile
Murata Manufacturing 64 Unlock company profile
Johnson Controls International 64 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 60 Unlock company profile
LG 60 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 56 Unlock company profile
Meditor European Master Fund 53 Unlock company profile
Tesla 50 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 47 Unlock company profile
Suzuki Motor 44 Unlock company profile
Brookfield Asset Management 43 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 43 Unlock company profile
Dyson Holdings 39 Unlock company profile
Yamaha Motor 39 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 36 Unlock company profile
BlackBerry 33 Unlock company profile
Cummins 32 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 32 Unlock company profile
Mahle 28 Unlock company profile
Denso 27 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 25 Unlock company profile
EaglePicher 25 Unlock company profile
Cadenza Innovation 24 Unlock company profile
Siemens 24 Unlock company profile
Bloom Energy 23 Unlock company profile
Fastcap Systems 23 Unlock company profile
Boeing 23 Unlock company profile
Swatch Group 23 Unlock company profile
CEA 23 Unlock company profile
Chung-Hsin Electric and Machinery Manufacturing 21 Unlock company profile
Dell Technologies 20 Unlock company profile
Doosan 19 Unlock company profile
Toyota Jidosha Kogyo 19 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 19 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 18 Unlock company profile
Naval Group 18 Unlock company profile
NACCO Materials Handling Group 17 Unlock company profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 17 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota is a leading patent filer in the fuel cell-battery combination market with 1,047 patent applications. Toyota is continuing to develop fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) as they are one of the most promising technologies for achieving sustainable mobility and energy diversification. Nissan, Panasonic, and Hyundai are a few of the other top patent filers in the same field.  

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.