The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for 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: ICE bearings. Buy the report here.

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

ICE bearings are a key innovation area in automotive

Crankshaft bearings enable the crankshaft to rotate while being supported by the connecting rods' oscillating forces and the inertia forces produced by the shaft's components. The crankcase houses the main bearings between an electric motor and a combustion engine.

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 ICE bearings.

Key players in ICE bearings – 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 ICE bearings

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Mahle 149 Unlock Company Profile
AB SKF 118 Unlock Company Profile
JTEKT 81 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 75 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 71 Unlock Company Profile
NTT 61 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 60 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 58 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 42 Unlock Company Profile
Taiho Kogyo 26 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 24 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 24 Unlock Company Profile
Timken 18 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 18 Unlock Company Profile
Thyssenkrupp Metalurgica Campo Limpoa 18 Unlock Company Profile
Tenneco 17 Unlock Company Profile
H.E.F. 16 Unlock Company Profile
Icahn Enterprises 15 Unlock Company Profile
Hilite Germany 14 Unlock Company Profile
EOLOTEC 13 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
E.ON 11 Unlock Company Profile
Wartsila 9 Unlock Company Profile
MAG IAS 9 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
Alfing Kessler Sondermaschinen 8 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 8 Unlock Company Profile
Driven Brands Holdings 7 Unlock Company Profile
American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings 7 Unlock Company Profile
GE Jenbacher & OHG 7 Unlock Company Profile
Neander Motors 7 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 6 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 5 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Mahle, with 149 patents, is one of the top companies to file for ICE bearings patents. The corporation is concerned with the design, production and marketing of ICE bearings technology. The company provides hybrid bearings, which have more rotating parts and run efficiently in all conditions such as peak power requirements. AB SKF, Toyota, and Ford 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.

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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.