The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in integrated multi-motor drivetrains is driven by increasing demand for electric vehicles, improved efficiency and enhanced traction, and growing importance of technologies such as motor controllers and torque vectoring. In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.7 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in automotive: integrated multi-motor drivetrains. Buy the report here.

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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 stabilizing 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.

300+ 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 one million patents, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, integrated multi-motor drivetrains, electric power steering (EPS), and post-collision handling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Variable compression engines, V2V distance monitoring, and turbocharger shaft bearings are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and plasma-jet ignition, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

Integrated multi-motor drivetrains is a key innovation area in automotive

Integrated multi-motor drivetrains refer to drivetrains in vehicles that incorporate multiple electric motors, along with various components like differentials, gear assemblies, control systems, and power management. These drivetrains enable the independent control of each motor, allowing for optimized power distribution, torque vectoring, and enhanced vehicle performance.

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 integrated multi-motor drivetrains.

Key players in integrated multi-motor drivetrains – a disruptive innovation in the automotive industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to integrated multi-motor drivetrains

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
American Axle & Manufacturing 7 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 24 Unlock Company Profile
Magna International 13 Unlock Company Profile
NTT 6 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 20 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 23 Unlock Company Profile
Melrose Industries 19 Unlock Company Profile
QinetiQ Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 67 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 16 Unlock Company Profile
Danfoss 4 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 32 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 12 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 17 Unlock Company Profile
Pioneer 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 11 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 10 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 62 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 11 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan Infracore 6 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 36 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 17 Unlock Company Profile
JTEKT 5 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 5 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 28 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 32 Unlock Company Profile
Arrival 6 Unlock Company Profile
Rivian 9 Unlock Company Profile
REE Automotive 12 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota Motor is one of the leading patent filers in integrated multi-motor drivetrains. It developed a range of electric and hybrid powertrains that included multiple electric motors and advanced control systems. These powertrains are employed in hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Camry Hybrid and RAV4 Hybrid, which offered increased efficiency and performance. Honda Motor and Porsche Automobil are some of the other key patent filers in this space.

In terms of application diversity, Hyundai Motor leads the pack, while Kia and Arrival stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Panasonic held the top position, followed by REE Automotive and Tata Motors.

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.