The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by factors such as proper transmission of torque from engine to drivetrain and improving vehicle efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as friction and hydraulic actuated clutches. 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 Innovation in Automotive: Fluid actuated clutches.
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, resilient spoke wheels, auto-transmission lubrication circuits, and ignition switching engines are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Engine purge actuators, electro-dynamic braking, and adsorptive vapour recovery system estimation are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are collision avoidance braking control system and direct injection type engines, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry
Fluid actuated clutches is a key innovation area in automotive
A fluid actuated clutch is a device used in cars and is operated by hydraulic fluid. A hydraulic clutch moves the clutch plate using a fluid that is kept in a reservoir instead of using a cable. The clutch does not require pedal height adjustments and it automatically adjusts itself using the clutch fluid.
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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of fluid actuated clutches.
Key players in fluid actuated clutches – 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 fluid actuated clutches
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2021)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Schaeffler||489||Unlock company profile|
|Valeo||99||Unlock company profile|
|Aisin||76||Unlock company profile|
|Zeppelin-Stiftung||65||Unlock company profile|
|Toyota Motor||45||Unlock company profile|
|BorgWarner||37||Unlock company profile|
|Nissan Motor||29||Unlock company profile|
|Mercedes-Benz Group||24||Unlock company profile|
|Honda Motor||23||Unlock company profile|
|Porsche Automobil Holding||17||Unlock company profile|
|Allison Transmission Holdings||17||Unlock company profile|
|Hyundai Motor Group||16||Unlock company profile|
|Bayerische Motoren Werke||14||Unlock company profile|
|Kia||12||Unlock company profile|
|Magna International||12||Unlock company profile|
|General Motors||9||Unlock company profile|
|Unipres||7||Unlock company profile|
|Subaru||5||Unlock company profile|
|Zhejiang Geely Holding Group||5||Unlock company profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Schaeffler is one of the leading patent filers in fluid actuated clutches. In Schaeffler’s fluid actuated clutches, the roller raises the fluid after the clutch spins in a clockwise direction. The company’s fluid clutches also help in delivering better fuel economy as well as having less wear and tear than a manual clutch. Other major patent filers in the innovation area are Toyota Motor, BorgWarner, Aisin, and Kia.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive.