The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by electrification, connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and machine learning. 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: Leaf spring mounting. 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 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

Leaf spring mounting is a key innovation area in automotive

A leaf spring mounting is one or more narrow, arc-shaped, thin plates that are attached to the axle and chassis in such a way that allows the leaf spring to flex vertically in response to irregularities in the road surface.

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 leaf spring mounting.

Key players in leaf spring mounting – 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 leaf spring mounting

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Firestone Tire & Rubber 146 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 100 Unlock Company Profile
Hendrickson USA 83 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 75 Unlock Company Profile
SAF-HOLLAND 75 Unlock Company Profile
SAF-HOLLAND 69 Unlock Company Profile
NHK Spring 63 Unlock Company Profile
AB Volvo 51 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 37 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 35 Unlock Company Profile
Bridgestone 34 Unlock Company Profile
BPW Bergische Achsen 32 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 31 Unlock Company Profile
Benteler International 31 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 30 Unlock Company Profile
Rassini SAB de CV 20 Unlock Company Profile
Hendrickson International 17 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 16 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 14 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor Group 13 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 13 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 13 Unlock Company Profile
NFI Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
BRP 12 Unlock Company Profile
Vibracoustic 11 Unlock Company Profile
CIR – Compagnie Industriali Riunite 10 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
Vibracoustic CV Air Springs 9 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 8 Unlock Company Profile
LCI Industries 7 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 7 Unlock Company Profile
Thor Industries 6 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 6 Unlock Company Profile
REYCO GRANNING 6 Unlock Company Profile
WPP 5 Unlock Company Profile
Link Manufacturing 5 Unlock Company Profile
PACCAR 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Firestone Tire & Rubber is a key player in the leaf spring mounting innovation area with 146 patents filed. Firestone’s leaf springs mounting offers a large amount of support between the wheels, axles, and the car’s chassis. They can take huge vertical loads being applied to them due to their tight-knit structure. Vertical loading is also distributed across the length of the leaf spring mounting rather than through a small spring and damper, which can create a concentrated force that may be too large for the suspension to handle. Zeppelin Stiftung, SAF-Holland, and Hendrickson USA 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.