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, 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: shock absorbing grille-guardsBuy 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

Shock absorbing grille-guards is a key innovation area in automotive

A grille guard lessens the impact on the grille and guards the radiator when a vehicle collides with an animal, another vehicle, or anything else.

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 shock absorbing grille-guards.

Key players in shock absorbing grille-guards – 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 shock absorbing grille-guards

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hyundai Mobis 50 Unlock Company Profile
KIRCHHOFF Automotive 55 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Steel 178 Unlock Company Profile
Magna International 106 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 196 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 736 Unlock Company Profile
Nifco 44 Unlock Company Profile
Acek Desarrollo y Gestion Industrial 214 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 83 Unlock Company Profile
Benteler International 195 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 98 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 49 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 337 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 185 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 105 Unlock Company Profile
ArcelorMittal 117 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 93 Unlock Company Profile
Suzuki Motor 74 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 387 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 180 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 329 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 192 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 267 Unlock Company Profile
Sungwoo Hitech 108 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 202 Unlock Company Profile
Burelle 178 Unlock Company Profile
LG 105 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 73 Unlock Company Profile
Lotte Chemical 64 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 194 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 449 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 227 Unlock Company Profile
Shape 153 Unlock Company Profile
Toyoda Iron Works 61 Unlock Company Profile
Jiangyin Excellent Automotive Trim 70 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota is the leading patent filer in shock absorbing grille-guards. The company provides shock absorbing grille-guards with different characteristics, which are used to gently envelop and support the passengers when the vehicle is in standstill mode or when it is in motion. Other major companies innovating in this technology domain are Ford Motor, Honda Motor, Hyundai Motor, and Porsche Automobil.

In terms of application diversity, Hyundai held the top position, while Shape and Valeo stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, ArcelorMittal leads the pack, followed by Nippon Steel and Aisin.

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.