The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity 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 1.2 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Automotive: Silicon carbide ICE components. 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

Silicon carbide ICE components is a key innovation area in automotive

Higher power densities and switching efficiencies are made possible in electric vehicle (EV) powertrains by using silicon carbide (SiC) for power switches. SiC power devices can be smaller in size for a given power level and battery capacity, which translates into assemblies of EV subsystems with integrated powertrain systems.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of silicon carbide ICE components.

Key players in silicon carbide ICE components – 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 silicon carbide ICE components

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
NGK Insulators 344 Unlock Company Profile
IBIDEN 114 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 90 Unlock Company Profile
Corning 57 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 34 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 16 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 13 Unlock Company Profile
Dow 11 Unlock Company Profile
Mcalister Technologies 11 Unlock Company Profile
Kyocera 7 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Matthey 5 Unlock Company Profile
Parjointco 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

NGK Insulators is one of the leading innovators in silicon carbide ICE components with 344 patents. The company provides silicon carbide ICE components that can operate at much higher temperatures compared to traditional silicon-based devices, eliminating the need for cooling components and bulky heat-sink materials. Other companies innovating in this technology domain are Hitachi, Toyota, and Denso.

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.