The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by limited fossil fuels reserves and deteriorating environment, and growing importance of technologies which will help in improving fuel efficiency. 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: Vapour recovery integrated fuel tanks.  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 

Vapour recovery integrated fuel tanks is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability 

Vapour recovery units capture oil vapours, condensate storage gas, or low volume gas from oil separators operating at low pressure. The oil vapours can be used to create fuel gas for facilities or sent to a pipeline after being recovered.

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 vapour recovery integrated fuel tanks. 

Key players in vapour recovery integrated 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 vapour recovery integrated fuel tanks

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Porsche Automobil Holding 168 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 166 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 165 Unlock company profile
Aisan Industry 137 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 134 Unlock company profile
General Motors 114 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 106 Unlock company profile
Textron 101 Unlock company profile
Nifco 95 Unlock company profile
Burelle 95 Unlock company profile
Eaton 90 Unlock company profile
Continental 88 Unlock company profile
Denso 70 Unlock company profile
Kia 67 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 43 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 39 Unlock company profile
Suzuki Motor 37 Unlock company profile
Kiekert 30 Unlock company profile
Mahle 29 Unlock company profile
Kohler 26 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 26 Unlock company profile
Stellantis 25 Unlock company profile
Toyoda Gosei 23 Unlock company profile
TI Fluid Systems 23 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Motors 22 Unlock company profile
Faurecia 21 Unlock company profile
Huf Hulsbeck & Furst 18 Unlock company profile
Renault 18 Unlock company profile
So. Ge. Mi 18 Unlock company profile
Mazda Motor 15 Unlock company profile
Raval ACS 13 Unlock company profile
Futaba Industrial 13 Unlock company profile
Hi-Lex 13 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 13 Unlock company profile
Brose Fahrzeugteile 13 Unlock company profile
AKWEL 12 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 11 Unlock company profile
Schneider Electric 9 Unlock company profile
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group 9 Unlock company profile
MinebeaMitsumi 8 Unlock company profile
CIR – Compagnie Industriali Riunite 8 Unlock company profile
PHA 8 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 8 Unlock company profile
Pierer Konzerngesellschaft mbH 7 Unlock company profile
Komatsu 7 Unlock company profile
Tata Motors 6 Unlock company profile
Alfmeier Praezision 6 Unlock company profile
Toyota Boshoku 6 Unlock company profile
Yamaha Motor 6 Unlock company profile
Korea Fuel-Tech 6 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Porsche Automobil is one of the top companies in the vapour recovery integrated fuel tanks innovation area with 168 patents. The company has developed a membrane vapour recovery system for the fuel storage tanks of retail gasoline stations. The vapour recovery system recovers gasoline vapours and returns them to the storage tank. Hydrocarbon emissions are reduced by 95% to 99%, which significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the gas station. Ford, Denso, and Kia are a few further significant automotive patent filers.

To further understand how environmental sustainability is disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive

Premium Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


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.