The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by road safety, increasing focus on driver and passenger safety, and growing importance of technologies such as suspension technologies and artificial intelligence. 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: Hydropneumatic spring suspensions.
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
Hydropneumatic spring suspensions is a key innovation area in automotive
Hydropneumatic spring suspension systems employ an engine-driven belt or camshaft pump to pressurise a particular hydraulic fluid, which subsequently drives the brakes, suspension, and power steering. It may also power a variety of amenities, including the clutch, moving headlights, and power windows.
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 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of hydropneumatic spring suspensions.
Key players in hydropneumatic spring suspensions – 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 hydropneumatic spring suspensions
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
One of the top companies for the automobile industry's hydropneumatics spring suspensions regulation patent filings is Firestone Tire & Rubber with 254 patents. Its new technology provides the ability to adjust vehicle clearance, which ensures that its value is unaffected by the weight of the vehicle and makes hydropneumatics suspension systems significantly superior to traditional mechanical suspension systems. The driver can adjust vehicle clearance manually or have it change automatically. Hendrickson USA and Continental are among other 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.