The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for enhanced driving experience, fuel efficiency, and engine performance, and growing importance of technologies such as electrification, and connected 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: Piston pump servomotors.

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

Piston pump servomotors is a key innovation area in automotive

Piston pump servomotors for hydraulic supply consist of a fixed displacement pump driven by a servo motor. The flow rate and pressure can be controlled precisely by the highly dynamic changing of the motor speed. If neither flow rate nor pressure is required, the motor stops and does not consume any energy.

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 piston pump servomotors.

Key players in piston pump servomotors – 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 piston pump servomotors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hitachi 389 Unlock company profile
KYB 209 Unlock company profile
Doosan Infracore 142 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 139 Unlock company profile
Komatsu 136 Unlock company profile
Kobe Steel 91 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 31 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 29 Unlock company profile
Kubota 27 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 21 Unlock company profile
Doosan 21 Unlock company profile
J C Bamford Excavators 18 Unlock company profile
Yanmar Holdings 18 Unlock company profile
Danfoss 16 Unlock company profile
Liebherr-International 15 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 15 Unlock company profile
Toyota Jidosha Kogyo 11 Unlock company profile
Yinyi Group 9 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 9 Unlock company profile
YANMAR POWER TECHNOLOGY 8 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 8 Unlock company profile
Aisin 8 Unlock company profile
Kia 7 Unlock company profile
WEBER-HYDRAULIK 6 Unlock company profile
Johnson Matthey 5 Unlock company profile
Dana 5 Unlock company profile
Takeuchi Mfg 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hitachi is one of the leading innovators in piston pump servomotors with 389 patents. Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas engages in the development and production of various pistons that meet customer demands for higher functionality and lower costs. The company’s pistons and direct injection of gasoline (DIG) engines increase efficiency through better anti-knock performance. Hitachi is currently working on the development of engine downsizing systems based on DIG engines and the related high boosting technology. Other companies innovating in this technology domain are KYB, Dana, and Komatsu.

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.