The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for enhanced comfort, convenience and safety, and growing importance of technologies such as 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: Hydraulic vehicle suspension.

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

Hydraulic vehicle suspension is a key innovation area in automotive

Hydraulic suspension systems are relatively new systems that use oil and compressed gas to absorb forces generated by the road surface in place of springs.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of hydraulic vehicle suspension.

Key players in hydraulic vehicle suspension – 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 hydraulic vehicle suspension

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hitachi 198 Unlock company profile
Tenneco 165 Unlock company profile
KYB 156 Unlock company profile
ThyssenKrupp 75 Unlock company profile
Beijing West Industries 67 Unlock company profile
Fox Factory Holding 57 Unlock company profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 29 Unlock company profile
BeijingWest Industries 28 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 23 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 22 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 21 Unlock company profile
Oshkosh 19 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 18 Unlock company profile
General Motors 17 Unlock company profile
Grammer 16 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 13 Unlock company profile
Sistemi Sospensioni 13 Unlock company profile
Chudenko 12 Unlock company profile
Kendrion (Villingen) 11 Unlock company profile
Aisin 11 Unlock company profile
ClearMotion 10 Unlock company profile
Mando 10 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 10 Unlock company profile
Yamaha Motor 7 Unlock company profile
Elektronische Fahrwerksysteme 6 Unlock company profile
Kia 5 Unlock company profile
Manitou BF 5 Unlock company profile
WEBER-HYDRAULIK 5 Unlock company profile
Toyota Jidosha Kogyo 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hitachi, with 198 patents, is one of the top companies to file for hydraulic vehicle suspension patents. Hitachi’s Hydraulic Cylinder for roll control offers low friction with a minimal inside leak through a unique seal structure. The twin tube structure made of cast iron casing allows sufficient cylinder stroke as well as closer fluid ports layout that eases vehicle application. Ford Motor, Toyota, and Kia 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.