The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the rise in engine downsizing trends for better fuel efficiency and performance, and growing importance of technologies such as additive manufacturing and coolant technologies. 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: Radiator grilles. 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

Radiator grilles is a key innovation area in automotive

Radiator grilles are the grating that admits air into the automobile’s radiator, which then cools down the engine. It is part of the body shell on the front of an automobile that covers the area where the air enters and prevents it from escaping. The radiator is connected to a shroud, which directs the air that comes in through the radiator grille.

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 radiator grilles.

Key players in radiator grilles – 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 radiator grilles

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hyundai Motor Group 41 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 34 Unlock Company Profile
Magna International 33 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 31 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 28 Unlock Company Profile
Magna Exteriors 27 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 26 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 25 Unlock Company Profile
TEIKOKU PISTON RING 25 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 24 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 17 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 14 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 14 Unlock Company Profile
Nitto Denko 9 Unlock Company Profile
Dongfeng Motor 8 Unlock Company Profile
Burelle 8 Unlock Company Profile
Toyoda Iron Works 8 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
WEIDPLAS 7 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 6 Unlock Company Profile
Dongfeng commercial vehicle 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hanon Systems 6 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 6 Unlock Company Profile
Flex-N-Gate 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hyundai is a key player in the radiator grilles innovation area. Hyundai’s radiator grilles offer the perfect surface for the seamless integration of a variety of sensors that are essential for automated driving including ultrasound, cameras, radar, and Lidar (laser). Hyundai’s radiator grilles offer ideal durability, corrosion resistance, and heat resistance. Magna International, Kia, Ford, Valeo, and General Motors are some of the other key players.

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.