The automotiveindustry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for enhanced driving experience, fuel efficiency, and engine performance, and growing importance of technologies such as electromechanical actuators, sensors, and air brakes, and 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 Innovation in Automotive: Fuel tank de-freezing.

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

Fuel tank de-freezing is a key innovation area in automotive

Fuel is kept from freezing in aircraft and high-end military vehicles by storing in tanks filled with inert foam. These tanks also stop the fuel from sloshing and leaking.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of fuel tank de-freezing.

Key players in fuel tank de-freezing – 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 tank de-freezing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Robert Bosch Stiftung 90 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 59 Unlock company profile
Continental 57 Unlock company profile
Burelle 38 Unlock company profile
Emitec Gesellschaft fur Emissionstechnologie mbH 36 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 35 Unlock company profile
Yazaki 28 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 27 Unlock company profile
General Motors 26 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 18 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 15 Unlock company profile
Nifco 13 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 13 Unlock company profile
NV Bekaert 13 Unlock company profile
Textron 12 Unlock company profile
AKWEL 12 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 9 Unlock company profile
Kia 9 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 9 Unlock company profile
Suzuki Motor 8 Unlock company profile
Dayco IP Holdings 8 Unlock company profile
Eltek 7 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 7 Unlock company profile
Aisan Industry 7 Unlock company profile
Renault 7 Unlock company profile
BorgWarner 7 Unlock company profile
Schneider Electric 6 Unlock company profile
Faurecia 6 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Motors 6 Unlock company profile
Brose Fahrzeugteile 5 Unlock company profile
Rochling Automotive 5 Unlock company profile
DBK David+Baader 5 Unlock company profile
Eichenauer Heizelemente 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Robert Bosch Stiftung, with 90 patents, is one of the top companies to file for fuel tank de-freezing patents. The company’s fuel tank de-freezing management structures provide a simple, dependable, cost-effective method for fuel tank de-freezing. The de-freezing management structures have thermal management features to enable an ideal balance between fuel tank, cabin temperature, catalyst light-off, and emissions performance. Nissan, General Motors, and Continental are a few other notable patent filers in the same industry.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive.


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.