The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in progressive suspension is driven by factors such as increased vehicle safety, consumer preferences for performance vehicles, rise in off-road and adventure vehicles, technological advancements in suspension systems, evolving automotive design trends, fuel efficiency, and emissions reduction, and growing importance of technologies such as progressive spring systems, adaptive damping systems, and magnetic ride control. 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: progressive suspension. 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 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 Foresights, 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 handling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of 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 the 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

Progressive suspension is a key innovation area in automotive

Progressive suspension is a type of suspension system used in vehicles, especially in automobiles and motorcycles. The system provides a better ride quality by adjusting the stiffness of the suspension based on the force it faces. It uses a spring that can change its compression rate depending on the load applied to it, which results in a smoother ride with optimal handling.

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 progressive suspension.

Key players in progressive suspension – 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 progressive suspension

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Chudenko 14 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Mobis 7 Unlock Company Profile
Fox Factory 76 Unlock Company Profile
BRP 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
HL Mando 13 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 20 Unlock Company Profile
Showa Sangyo 55 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 14 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 12 Unlock Company Profile
Grammer 16 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 217 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 14 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 119 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 13 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 10 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 25 Unlock Company Profile
Tenneco 255 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 22 Unlock Company Profile
Oshkosh 24 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 23 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 24 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 7 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing West Industries 77 Unlock Company Profile
KYB 180 Unlock Company Profile
Sistemi Sospensioni 13 Unlock Company Profile
ClearMotion 17 Unlock Company Profile
BeijingWest Industries 39 Unlock Company Profile
Kendrion (Villingen) 13 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 44 Unlock Company Profile
Elektronische Fahrwerksysteme 6 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President China 8 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Tenneco is one of the leading patent filers in progressive suspension. The company's progressive suspension technology is a suspension system that uses two dampers per wheel, one for low-speed damping and one for high-speed damping. This allows the suspension to provide a comfortable ride at low speeds and a sportier ride at high speeds. Some other key patent filers in the space include Hitachi, KYB, and ThyssenKrupp.

In terms of application diversity, Chudenko leads the pack, while ThyssenKrupp and BeijingWest Industries stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, ThyssenKrupp held the top position, followed by Grammer and Oshkosh.

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.