The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by connected and autonomous vehicles, and electrification, and growing importance of technologies such as sensors, packaged heating, and air systems. 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: vehicle HVAC controllersBuy the report here.

Smarter leaders trust GlobalData

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 Foresight, 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 handing are useful technologies that are in the early stages of wider 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

Vehicle HVAC controllers is a key innovation area in automotive

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) controllers help in maintaining a pleasant climate inside a vehicle by automatically controlling the temperature for the comfort of onboard passengers.

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 vehicle HVAC controllers.

Key players in vehicle HVAC controllers – 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 vehicle HVAC controllers

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Marelli 26 Unlock Company Profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 29 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 28 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 59 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 245 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 142 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 45 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 71 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 22 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 285 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 23 Unlock Company Profile
Hanon Systems 115 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 77 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 16 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 47 Unlock Company Profile
GS Yuasa 20 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 13 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 120 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 50 Unlock Company Profile
Arkema 31 Unlock Company Profile
Mahle 59 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 75 Unlock Company Profile
LG 19 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 162 Unlock Company Profile
Tesla 25 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 226 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 225 Unlock Company Profile
Sanden 39 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 50 Unlock Company Profile
Thunder Power Hong Kong 84 Unlock Company Profile
Lucid Group 27 Unlock Company Profile
TI Fluid Systems 15 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota is one of the leading patent filers in vehicle HVAC controllers. Toyota’s vehicle HVAC controllers help in maintaining temperature and reduce unnecessary energy expenditures. It controls all the functions of the system, such as blower speed, temperature, and direction of the airflow. It is responsible for making sure a vehicle is comfortable and the air inside it remains at a consistent temperature. Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Denso, and Valeo are some of the other key players.

In terms of application diversity, Marelli held the top position, while TI Fluid and Thunder Power Hong stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, GS Yuasa leads the pack, followed by Thunder Power Hong and Deere.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive.

Data Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


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.