The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by factors such as transmission of torque from engine to drivetrain and improving vehicle efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. 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 transmission clutch actuation.

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

HEV transmission clutch actuation is a key innovation area in automotive

The one-motor, two-clutch hybrid system can enable the drivetrain to be separated from the engine as needed. It can use the motor and engine as power sources and operate solely on the motor or use both for full acceleration, achieving a more efficient drive depending on the circumstances.

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 HEV transmission clutch actuation.

Key players in HEV transmission clutch actuation – 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 transmission clutch actuation

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Schaeffler 297 Unlock company profile
Valeo 64 Unlock company profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 24 Unlock company profile
BorgWarner 22 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 21 Unlock company profile
Aisin 20 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 16 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 16 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 14 Unlock company profile
Magna International 11 Unlock company profile
Kia 10 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 8 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Schaeffler, with 297 patents, is one of the top companies to file for HEV transmission clutch actuation patents. Schaeffler is currently developing an ideal, dedicated transmission for hybrid vehicles, known as a MultiMode hybrid transmission (MMH), for volume production by 2025. Other major patent filers for HEV transmission clutch actuation are Toyota, BorgWarner, Aisin, and Valeo. 

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.