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The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the increasing penetration of electronics into vehicle systems to make mobility safer and more intelligent with 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 1.2 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Automotive: Positive ignition engines. Buy 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 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

Positive ignition engines is a key innovation area in automotive

A positive ignition engine is a type of internal combustion engine (ICE), in which combustion is started by a localised high temperature in the combustion chamber. The high temperature is produced by energy provided by a source independent of the engine.

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 positive ignition engines.

Key players in positive ignition engines – 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 positive ignition engines

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Motor 287 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 273 Unlock Company Profile
Scuderi Group 74 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 62 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 49 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 40 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor Group 37 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha Motor 36 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 35 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 35 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 32 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 30 Unlock Company Profile
Westport Power 27 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 27 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 25 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 23 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 21 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 17 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 16 Unlock Company Profile
AVL List 14 Unlock Company Profile
IMAGINEERING 12 Unlock Company Profile
Shandong Heavy Industry Group 11 Unlock Company Profile
Fuji Heavy Industries 11 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 10 Unlock Company Profile
IHI 10 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 7 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 7 Unlock Company Profile
FEV 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Motors 6 Unlock Company Profile
TVS Group 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Mazda is one of the leading innovators in positive ignition engines with 273 patents. Mazda recently filed a patent for a supercharged two-stroke engine that increases the degree of engine-control difficulty by functioning as a compression-ignition (like a diesel) engine under low loads and a spark ignition engine under high loads. Other companies innovating in this technology domain are Hyundai and Renault.

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.