The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by heightened focus on improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions for environmental protection, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, robotics and cloud computing. 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: multi-spark ignition. Buy the report here.
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
Multi-spark ignition is a key innovation area in automotive
Multi-spark discharge (MSD) ignition is used in high-speed internal combustion engines fitted in vehicles such as racing cars, motorcycles, and outboard motors to achieve multiple sparks during each ignition.
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 multi-spark ignition.
Key players in multi-spark ignition – 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 multi-spark ignition
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Mazda Motor is the leading patent filer in multi-spark ignition. Mazda filed a patent for a supercharged two-stroke engine that functions as a compression-ignition (like a diesel) engine under low loads and a spark ignition engine under high loads. Toyota, Ford, General Motors, and Honda are among the other major players innovating in multi-spark ignition.
In terms of application diversity, Hyundai Motor held the top position, while Porsche Automobil and IFP Energies nouvelles stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Mahle leads the pack, followed by Hyundai Motor and IFP Energies nouvelles.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive.