The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by stringent government regulations on emissions, and need for increased performance and fuel economy, and growing importance of technologies such as Iridium spark plugs and platinum spark plugs. 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 spark plugs. 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 spark plugs are a key innovation area in automotive

An ICE spark plug is an electrical device used in an internal combustion engine to generate a spark, which ignites the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber of an internal combustion engine. ICE spark plugs emit a bolt of electricity across a small gap igniting the fuel and air mixture that puts the pistons in motion and gets a vehicle up and running.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of ICE spark plugs.

Key players in ICE spark plugs – 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 spark plugs

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Motor 33 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 26 Unlock Company Profile
Icahn Enterprises 25 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 17 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 11 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 10 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 9 Unlock Company Profile
Mahle 8 Unlock Company Profile
NGK Spark Plug 8 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 7 Unlock Company Profile
Wartsila 5 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 5 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 5 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 5 Unlock Company Profile
GE Jenbacher & OHG 5 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota is a key player in the ICE spark plugs innovation area. Toyota offers a variety of ICE spark plugs designed specifically for a vehicle’s engine, including U-Groove, Dual-Ground Electrode, Double Platinum and Iridium spark plugs. Rolls-Royce, Icahn Enterprises and Mercedes-Benz are some of the other key players.

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.