The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increasing penetration of electronics into vehicle systems to make mobility safer and intelligent and enhance in-car experiences. Megatrends governing the auto industry include more connected, autonomous, shared and electric vehicles that have led to the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, Internet of Things, robotics and cloud computing. 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: HEV auxiliary drives.

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, eccentric crankshaft gears, retarder brake system, and closed-circuit liquid cooling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Bio-fuel ICEs, electromagnetic valve actuators, and road friction estimation are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are tyre bead fillers and vehicle turbochargers, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

HEV auxiliary drives is a key innovation area in automotive

A hybrid vehicle or hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is one that has both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor driving system. In these vehicles, the battery is charged using the ICE engine and when switched to electric mode, the car can run the electric motor for a specific distance without the support of the ICE engine. The ICE engine is the primary drive unit and the electric motor is the auxiliary drive unit.

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 HEV auxiliary drives.

Key players in HEV auxiliary drives – 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 HEV auxiliary drives

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Porsche Automobil Holding 75 Unlock company profile
Allison Transmission Holdings 43 Unlock company profile
Schaeffler 36 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 23 Unlock company profile
General Motors 21 Unlock company profile
Dana 18 Unlock company profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 16 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 16 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 15 Unlock company profile
Stella Vermogensverwaltungs 15 Unlock company profile
Gates Industrial 14 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 12 Unlock company profile
Centro Ricerche Fiat 12 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 11 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 10 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 9 Unlock company profile
Powertech Holdings 8 Unlock company profile
Rosenbauer International 8 Unlock company profile
Oshkosh 7 Unlock company profile
Kia 7 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 7 Unlock company profile
Maison Villevert 7 Unlock company profile
Stellantis 6 Unlock company profile
AGCO 6 Unlock company profile
Moog 6 Unlock company profile
AVL List 6 Unlock company profile
Ferrari 5 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 5 Unlock company profile
Renault 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

One of the top companies for the automobile industry's HEV auxiliary drives patent filings is Porsche Automobil. The corporation is primarily concerned with the design, production and marketing of HEV auxiliary drives technology. Allison Transmission Holdings and Schaeffler are a few other significant patent filers in the innovation area.

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.