The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in mild hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) starters is driven by electrification trends, fuel efficiency standards, and improved start-stop systems, and growing importance of technologies such as integrated starter-generator (ISG), and belt-driven starter-generator (BSG). 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: mild HEV starters. 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

Mild HEV starters is a key innovation area in automotive

Mild hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) use mild HEV starters that assist the internal combustion engine during startup and operate ancillary systems, such as air conditioning. These starters typically have lower voltage and power than full hybrid electric vehicle starters.

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 mild HEV starters.

Key players in mild HEV starters – 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 mild HEV starters

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Volvo 2 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 3 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 17 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 28 Unlock Company Profile
ABB 12 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 16 Unlock Company Profile
Reliance Industries 6 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung SDI 4 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 2 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 99 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 10 Unlock Company Profile
Nidec 3 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 67 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 5 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 11 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 4 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 2 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 2 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 8 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 33 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 33 Unlock Company Profile
Centro Ricerche Fiat 3 Unlock Company Profile
Jenoptik 5 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 8 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 64 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 41 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 12 Unlock Company Profile
C.R.F. Societa' Consortile Per Azioni 2 Unlock Company Profile
Noco 154 Unlock Company Profile
Land Rover UK 3 Unlock Company Profile
Ripple Industries 15 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Noco is one of the leading patent filers in mild HEV starters. Noco’s mild HEV starters technology aims to increase  efficiency during start-stop events and regenerative braking, thereby optimizing energy recuperation and power delivery. Developments in regenerative braking systems to capture and store more kinetic energy efficiently, further contribute to energy recuperation in the mild HEV system. Some other key patent filers in the space include Hyundai Motor and Nissan Motor.

In terms of application diversity, Honda Motor leads the pack, while Aisin and Centro Ricerche Fiat stood in the second and third  positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Noco held the top position, followed by ABB and Nissan Motor.

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.