The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) is driven by increasing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, stricter emission regulations, rising popularity of electric vehicles, and growing importance of technologies such as cooled exhaust gas recirculation, turbocharging, and supercharging. In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.7 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in automotive: HCCI. Buy the report here.

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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 stabilizing 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.

300+ 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 one million patents, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, integrated multi-motor drivetrains, electric power steering (EPS), and post-collision handling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Variable compression engines, V2V distance monitoring, and turbocharger shaft bearings are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among the maturing innovation areas are kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and plasma-jet ignition, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

Homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) is a key innovation area in automotive

Homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) is a combustion process used in internal combustion engines. It combines elements of both spark ignition and compression ignition engines to achieve high fuel efficiency and low emissions. In HCCI engines, the air-fuel mixture is homogeneously mixed and compressed until it reaches autoignition temperature, without the need for a spark plug. This allows for more complete combustion and reduced pollutant emissions.

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 homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI).

Key players in homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) – a disruptive innovation in the automotive industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI)

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Volvo 41 Unlock Company Profile
Marelli 25 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 26 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 49 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 178 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi Zosen 20 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 118 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 99 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 51 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 49 Unlock Company Profile
Ricardo 18 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 47 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 66 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 21 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 33 Unlock Company Profile
NewMarket 24 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 355 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 26 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 105 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 287 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 72 Unlock Company Profile
Burelle 20 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 21 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 25 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 68 Unlock Company Profile
Wartsila 26 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 35 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 32 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 25 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 336 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 37 Unlock Company Profile
Mainspring Energy 32 Unlock Company Profile
Newlenoir 19 Unlock Company Profile
Gane Energy & Resources 91 Unlock Company Profile
Nostrum Energy 33 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Mazda Motor is one of the leading patent filers in homogeneous charge compression ignition. Mazda’s SKYACTIV-X engine represents the latest HCCI innovation addition by the company. Only a small, dense portion of the fuel-air mix in the cylinder is ignited by a spark in the SKYACTIV-X engine. As a result of the increased temperature and pressure, the remaining fuel-air mixture ignites under pressure and burns more quickly and thoroughly than in traditional engines. Some of the other key patent filers in this space include Ford Motor, General Motors, and Toyota Motor.

In terms of application diversity, Burelle leads the pack, while Marelli and Nostrum Energy stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Gane Energy & Resources held the top position, followed by Mainspring Energy and Newlenoir.

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

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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.