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

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Firestone Tire & Rubber 254 Unlock company profile
Hendrickson USA 232 Unlock company profile
Continental 230 Unlock company profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 157 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 156 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 137 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 117 Unlock company profile
NHK Spring 81 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 73 Unlock company profile
Benteler International 72 Unlock company profile
SAF-HOLLAND 62 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 52 Unlock company profile
SAF-HOLLAND 51 Unlock company profile
Fox Factory Holding 45 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 43 Unlock company profile
Bridgestone 43 Unlock company profile
General Motors 41 Unlock company profile
CNH Industrial 38 Unlock company profile
Haldex 38 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 27 Unlock company profile
Hendrickson International 27 Unlock company profile
Cummins 26 Unlock company profile
Stellantis 25 Unlock company profile
Isuzu Motors 23 Unlock company profile
Kia 22 Unlock company profile
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group 22 Unlock company profile
Vibracoustic CV Air Springs 22 Unlock company profile
Beijing West Industries 20 Unlock company profile
Iveco Group 20 Unlock company profile
Stella Vermogensverwaltungs 19 Unlock company profile
Aisin 18 Unlock company profile
Oshkosh 16 Unlock company profile
ThyssenKrupp 16 Unlock company profile
REYCO GRANNING 14 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Mobis 13 Unlock company profile
Fiat Group Automobiles 13 Unlock company profile
Oiles 13 Unlock company profile
Seino Holdings 13 Unlock company profile
NFI Group 12 Unlock company profile
BRP 12 Unlock company profile
Rassini SAB de CV 12 Unlock company profile
EnPro Industries 11 Unlock company profile
MSI DEFENSE SOLUTIONS 11 Unlock company profile
BAE Systems 10 Unlock company profile
Magna International 10 Unlock company profile
Link Manufacturing 9 Unlock company profile
Tenneco 9 Unlock company profile
Dana 9 Unlock company profile
Kelso Technologies 9 Unlock company profile
Mando 9 Unlock company profile

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.


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.