The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in integrated transmission drives is driven by electrification, performance enhancement, fuel efficiency and emissions regulations, and growing importance of technologies such as dual-clutch technology, and torque converter software and control algorithms. 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 transmission drives. 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 transmission drives is a key innovation area in automotive

Integrated transmission drives involve combining various transmission components, including electric motors, clutches, and power take-offs (PTOs), within a driveline. This integration aims to enhance control and efficiency in the system or method. It involves the integration of these components to optimize the power distribution and performance of the transmission system. This allows for seamless shifting, increased flexibility, and enhanced power delivery in vehicles, particularly hybrid or electric vehicles.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of integrated transmission drives.

Key players in integrated transmission drives – 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 transmission drives

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Dana 9 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 18 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 6 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 3 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 17 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 4 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 144 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 26 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 2 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 59 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 4 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 4 Unlock Company Profile
JTEKT 5 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 74 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 23 Unlock Company Profile
China FAW Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
FAW Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Jing-Jin Electric Technologies 1 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin Seiki - Mechanical Seat Frame Component Business 2 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 5 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President Enterprises 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hyundai Motor is one of the leading patent filers in integrated transmission drives. The company iintegrates sensors, actuators, and control systems to create smart and connected transmission drives, providing features such as adaptive shifting algorithms based on real-time driving conditions and predictive maintenance capabilities. The implementation of torque vectoring systems within integrated transmission drives allows for precise distribution of torque between individual wheels, improving vehicle stability, handling, and performance. Some other key patent filers in this include Kia Motors and Nissan Motor.

In terms of application diversity, Porsche Automobil leads the pack, while Dana and General Motors stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Toyota Motor held the top position, followed by Nissan Motor and Aisin.

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.