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 ignitionBuy 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 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

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Rolls-Royce 2 Unlock Company Profile
Daimler AG (USA) 3 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 18 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Motors 2 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 65 Unlock Company Profile
Woodward 7 Unlock Company Profile
Bajaj Auto 2 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 24 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 7 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 13 Unlock Company Profile
Orbital 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 25 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 12 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 2 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 31 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 9 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 178 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 7 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 4 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 4 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 53 Unlock Company Profile
Mahle 8 Unlock Company Profile
Briggs & Stratton 3 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 4 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 25 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 9 Unlock Company Profile
Wartsila 2 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 60 Unlock Company Profile
IMAGINEERING 24 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 8 Unlock Company Profile
AVL List 3 Unlock Company Profile
Pinnacle Engines 6 Unlock Company Profile
iLab 2 Unlock Company Profile
FEV Group 2 Unlock Company Profile

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.

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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.