The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in liquid cooled propulsion is driven by temperature management, increased power density, extended lifespan, and improved energy efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as coolant circulation systems and heat exchangers. 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: liquid cooled propulsion. 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

Liquid cooled propulsion is a key innovation area in automotive

Liquid cooled propulsion refers to a system or method of cooling the components of a propulsion system using a liquid coolant. It involves circulating the liquid coolant through the propulsion system to dissipate heat generated during operation and maintain optimal operating temperatures. This cooling system aids in averting overheating, thereby enhancing the efficiency and longevity of the propulsion system.

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 liquid cooled propulsion.

Key players in liquid cooled propulsion – 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 liquid cooled propulsion

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hyundai Mobis 24 Unlock Company Profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 50 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 25 Unlock Company Profile
NTT 35 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 38 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 375 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 91 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 66 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 121 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 39 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 185 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 57 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 53 Unlock Company Profile
Nidec 85 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 73 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 57 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 139 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 33 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 185 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 54 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 38 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 268 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 34 Unlock Company Profile
Mahle 42 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 52 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 97 Unlock Company Profile
Tesla 26 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 26 Unlock Company Profile
Allison Transmission 24 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 35 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 154 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 100 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 78 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 60 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota Motor is one of the leading patent filers in liquid-cooled propulsion. The company innovates in the design and control algorithms of thermal management systems for liquid-cooled propulsion, which involves efficient heat exchangers, advanced coolant flow control, and smart adaptive cooling strategies. Some other key patent filers in this space include Porsche Automobil, Hyundai Motor, and Honda Motor.

In terms of application diversity, Denso leads the pack, while Tesla and Huawei Investment stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Tesla held the top position, followed by Allison Transmission and Hitachi.

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.