The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by better fuel economy and speed efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as air brakes, electrification, 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: Road slope-based gearshift control. 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

Road slope-based gearshift control is a key innovation area in automotive

A gear shift controller includes a hydraulic torque converter and a gear change group with several gears. Each gear has a different transmission ratio for transmitting power from the hydraulic torque converter to the output of the shaft.

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 road slope-based gearshift control.

Key players in road slope-based gearshift control – 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 road slope-based gearshift control

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hyundai Motor Group 83 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 83 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 72 Unlock Company Profile
Isuzu Motors 61 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Motors 55 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 48 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 48 Unlock Company Profile
AB Volvo 47 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 33 Unlock Company Profile
Allison Transmission Holdings 32 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 28 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 25 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 25 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 24 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 23 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 19 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 17 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 9 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 9 Unlock Company Profile
Shimano 8 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha Motor 7 Unlock Company Profile
Fiat Group Automobiles 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hyundai is one of the leading innovators in road slope-based gearshift control with 83 patents. It has pioneered the use of active shift control (ASC) transmission technology, which enhances transmission efficiency by observing gear shifts 500 times per second and accurately modifying the transmission rotation speed to achieve faster shift times. Other companies innovating in this technology domain are Renault, Honda, and Dana.

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.