The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the increasing penetration of electronics into vehicle systems to make mobility safer and intelligent and enhance in-car experiences, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, robotics and cloud computing. 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: Ignition switching engines.

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

Ignition switching engines is a key innovation area in automotive

An ignition switch is a control system switch for the internal combustion engine of a motor vehicle that activates the vehicle's main electrical systems. It usually turns on power to many accessories, in addition to the starter solenoid and ignition system components.

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 ignition switching engines.

Key players in ignition switching engines – 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 ignition switching engines

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Mazda Motor 255 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 60 Unlock company profile
General Motors 16 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 16 Unlock company profile
IMAGINEERING 11 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 10 Unlock company profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 8 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 8 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 8 Unlock company profile
Halliburton 6 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 6 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Mazda is one of the top companies in the field of ignition switching engines, having filed 255 patents. Mazda recently filed a patent for a supercharged two-stroke engine that increases the degree of engine-control difficulty by functioning as a compression-ignition (like a diesel) engine under low loads and a spark ignition engine under high loads. Toyota, Hitachi, and Mercedes-Benz Group have also filed patents in the same field.

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.