Share this article

The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need to improve fuel efficiency, and engine performance and, fuel economy standards, 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: Polyphase motors for rail propulsion. Buy the report here.

Smarter leaders trust GlobalData

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

Polyphase motors for rail propulsion is a key innovation area in automotive

An alternating current (AC) motor known as a polyphase induction motor uses several electrical phases to produce a rotating magnetic field in the stator, which induces current in the rotor and causes it to rotate. Pumps, fans, and conveyors are just a few examples of industrial and commercial equipment that frequently use this kind of motor.

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 polyphase motors for rail propulsion.

Key players in polyphase motors for rail propulsion – 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 polyphase motors for rail propulsion

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Mitsubishi Electric 404 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 261 Unlock Company Profile
Bombardier 227 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 211 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 177 Unlock Company Profile
Arendals Fossekompani 37 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom 33 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 29 Unlock Company Profile
Central Japan Railway 23 Unlock Company Profile
Stella Vermogensverwaltungs 14 Unlock Company Profile
Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies 12 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 11 Unlock Company Profile
Elways 11 Unlock Company Profile
DTI Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 8 Unlock Company Profile
SNCF Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
SMA Solar Technology 8 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 7 Unlock Company Profile
SEW-EURODRIVE 7 Unlock Company Profile
China CNR 7 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 6 Unlock Company Profile
CRRC Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
General Atomics 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Mitsubishi Electric is one of the leading innovators in polyphase motors for rail propulsion with 404 patents. Mitsubishi Electric’s polyphase motors have several advantages over single-phase systems, including a lower overall power loss and a reduction in the volume of conductor material required in the cable for a given amount of electrical power transmitted. Other companies innovating in this technology domain are BYD, Panasonic, and Toshiba.

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

Premium Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


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.