The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need to reduce the negative effects of batteries on society and the environment, and the growing importance of technologies such as electrification and autonomous vehicles. 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: Niobium electrode batteries.

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

Niobium electrode batteries is a key innovation area in automotive

Niobium electrode batteries are attained by surface-treating an electrode including an active material, a conducting agent, and a binder with niobium oxide, which has high electric conductivity. Niobium oxide enables to prevent the decrease in the capacity of the electrode even when the active material has low conductivity. It also helps in improving the initial capacity of the electrode as it enhances the intercalation and deintercalation of lithium ions and enables them to flow easily during charging and discharging.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of niobium electrode batteries.

Key players in niobium electrode batteries – 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 niobium electrode batteries

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toshiba 395 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 86 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 54 Unlock company profile
Murata Manufacturing 31 Unlock company profile
CEA 26 Unlock company profile
Seiko Epson 25 Unlock company profile
Dowa Holdings 24 Unlock company profile
Echion Technologies 23 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 17 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 15 Unlock company profile
AIST 14 Unlock company profile
Semiconductor Energy Laboratory 12 Unlock company profile
BASF 11 Unlock company profile
Shin-Etsu Chemical 10 Unlock company profile
Toyota Jidosha Kogyo 7 Unlock company profile
LG 7 Unlock company profile
L3Harris Technologies 7 Unlock company profile
Daiichi Kigenso Kagaku Kogyo 7 Unlock company profile
NGK Insulators 7 Unlock company profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 6 Unlock company profile
Johnson Matthey 6 Unlock company profile
UT-Battelle 6 Unlock company profile
Kubota 5 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Metal Mining 5 Unlock company profile
Hydro-Quebec 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toshiba is one of the leading innovators in niobium electrode batteries with 395 patents. Toshiba’s niobium electrode batteries achieve better performance, fast charging capabilities, and longer durability and at the same time maintain safety as a number one priority. The batteries are being used as a dopant and as a coating material to develop cobalt-reduced or cobalt-free, lithium-rich, and manganese-based new cathodes with higher performance, improved electronic conductivity, and longer-term stability. Other companies innovating in this technology domain are Panasonic, CEA, and BASF.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive.


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.