The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is 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 1.7 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in automotive: rigid axle suspensionsBuy 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 Foresight, 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 handing are useful technologies that are in the early stages of wider 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 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

Rigid axle suspensions is a key innovation area in automotive

Rigid axle suspension maintains the vehicle body at the perfect level while travelling over rough, uneven ground. This makes it possible for the wheels to move up and down in relation to the body. The suspension absorbs both small and large road impacts with the help of a single springing device.

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 rigid axle suspensions.

Key players in rigid axle suspensions – 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 rigid axle suspensions

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Volvo 74 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 38 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 21 Unlock Company Profile
Isuzu Motors 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 11 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
BYD 8 Unlock Company Profile
Benteler International 7 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 51 Unlock Company Profile
Haldex 14 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 5 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 36 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 6 Unlock Company Profile
Brookfield 7 Unlock Company Profile
SAF-HOLLAND 46 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 22 Unlock Company Profile
Inova Semiconductors 16 Unlock Company Profile
REYCO GRANNING 8 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 12 Unlock Company Profile
Hemscheidt Fahrwerktechnik 5 Unlock Company Profile
Schmitz Cargobull 9 Unlock Company Profile
BPW Bergische Achsen 79 Unlock Company Profile
Boler 274 Unlock Company Profile
SAF-HOLLAND 211 Unlock Company Profile
Watson & Chalin Manufacturing 5 Unlock Company Profile
Hendrickson International 31 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 23 Unlock Company Profile
Schomacker Federnwerk 5 Unlock Company Profile
Iveco Group 9 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hendrickson USA is one of the leading innovators in rigid axle suspensions. The company provides rigid axle suspensions with increased stability, improved ride and comfort, and reduced maintenance. The more integrated design enables steering geometry that is optimized for less wheel kick and bump steer. Other major companies innovating in this technology domain are Boler Company, SAF-HOLLAND, BPW Bergische Achsen, Volvo, and Cummins.

In terms of application diversity, BYD held the top position, while Ford Motor and Inova Semiconductors stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Inova Semiconductors leads the pack, followed by BYD and SAF-HOLLAND.

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.