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The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, enhanced efficiency and tighter emission regulation, and growing importance of technologies such as Hydrogen ICE. 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: Hydrogen ICE fuel tanks.  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, 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 

Hydrogen ICE fuel tanks is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability 

A hydrogen ICE fuel tank is a container or vessel used to store hydrogen in its gaseous or liquid form. They are also referred to as hydrogen cylinders, cartridges or canisters and are usually part of a hydrogen storage 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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of hydrogen ICE fuel tanks. 

Key players in hydrogen ICE fuel tanks – 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 hydrogen ICE fuel tanks

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Motor 177 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 50 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor Group 37 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 33 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 25 Unlock Company Profile
TATSUNO 24 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 23 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 22 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 18 Unlock Company Profile
JTEKT 17 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 13 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 12 Unlock Company Profile
ENEOS Holdings 8 Unlock Company Profile
Salzburger Aluminium 8 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 7 Unlock Company Profile
Royal DSM 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies 7 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 6 Unlock Company Profile
Tatsumi Ryoki 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Motors 6 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota is a key player in the hydrogen ICE fuel tanks innovation area. Toyota is developing a new vehicle with a hydrogen combustion engine and recently unveiled its Corolla Cross H2 hydrogen combustion engine concept vehicle. BMW, Porsche Automobil, Honda and Kia are some of the other key players in the innovation area.

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.