The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by cost, driving range, fuel consumption and reliability, and growing importance of technologies such as electrostatic thruster, hall effect thrusters and electrospray thrusters. 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: Liquid-cooled propulsion units. 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

Liquid-cooled propulsion units are a key innovation area in automotive

Liquid-cooled propulsion units carry the propulsion in tanks external to the combustion chamber. Most of these engines use a liquid oxidiser and a liquid fuel, which are transferred from their respective tanks by pumps.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of liquid-cooled propulsion units.

Key players in liquid-cooled propulsion units – 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 liquid-cooled propulsion units

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Motor 87 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 87 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 60 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 47 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor Group 36 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 32 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 32 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 30 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 30 Unlock Company Profile
Komatsu 30 Unlock Company Profile
Nidec 28 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 25 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 21 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 21 Unlock Company Profile
Mahle 18 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 18 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Motors 18 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 18 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 17 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 17 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 16 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 16 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 14 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 12 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 12 Unlock Company Profile
Shandong Heavy Industry Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 12 Unlock Company Profile
ROHM 11 Unlock Company Profile
Allison Transmission Holdings 10 Unlock Company Profile
Marelli Holdings 9 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Mobis 8 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 8 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 7 Unlock Company Profile
Nuova FourB 7 Unlock Company Profile
NTT 7 Unlock Company Profile
Aleees Eco Ark (Cayman) 7 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 6 Unlock Company Profile
Jing-Jin Electric Technologies 5 Unlock Company Profile
Protean Electric 5 Unlock Company Profile
Nio 5 Unlock Company Profile
AVL List 5 Unlock Company Profile
Aleees Eco Ark 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota is a key player in the liquid-cooled propulsion system innovation area. The company is engaged in the production and development of liquid-cooled propulsion units using the idea of a combustion engine made from liquid hydrogen that helps to boost power and produces more torque. Renault, Porsche Automobil, Denso and Robert Bosch Stiftung 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.