The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in solar range extenders is driven by cost reduction of solar technology, advanced energy storage solutions, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental concerns and regulations, and growing importance of technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, solar charge controllers, and maximum power point tracking (MPPT). 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: solar range extenders. 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 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 Foresights, 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 handling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of 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 the 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

Solar range extenders is a key innovation area in automotive

The concept of solar range extenders involves the integration of solar cells and associated charging systems to help boost the range of electric vehicles. These extenders can be standalone devices or integrated into the exterior of the vehicle, and they convert solar energy into electrical power that can be used to charge the vehicle's battery. In this manner, solar range extenders can decrease the frequency and duration of charging pauses while offering a more environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative for vehicle energy.

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 solar range extenders.

Key players in solar range extenders – 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 solar range extenders

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Liberty Electric Cars 3 Unlock Company Profile
Iljin Global 6 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 25 Unlock Company Profile
Daiwa House Industry 3 Unlock Company Profile
Rosenbauer International 8 Unlock Company Profile
Webasto 6 Unlock Company Profile
eNow 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 45 Unlock Company Profile
Lear 3 Unlock Company Profile
Hanergy 3 Unlock Company Profile
Fayat 3 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 10 Unlock Company Profile
Leo Motors 3 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 4 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 7 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 9 Unlock Company Profile
Polaris 3 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 6 Unlock Company Profile
Goldman Sachs Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 2 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 34 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 9 Unlock Company Profile
Polaris 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hayek Engineering 4 Unlock Company Profile
Fisker Automotive and Technology Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
WZI 2 Unlock Company Profile
Kor Ecologic 4 Unlock Company Profile
Nio 2 Unlock Company Profile
Divergent Technologies 7 Unlock Company Profile
Youon Technology 5 Unlock Company Profile
DD Dannar 10 Unlock Company Profile
Epic Battery 2 Unlock Company Profile
Parker James R 3 Unlock Company Profile
Tamiras Per 3 Unlock Company Profile
Smart Auto Labs 24 Unlock Company Profile
Jiaxing Zhixing Internet of Things Technology 3 Unlock Company Profile
Alpha Motor 3 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hyundai Motor is one of the leading patent filers in solar range extenders. The company is focused on the development of high-efficiency solar panels with improved photovoltaic technology to capture and convert sunlight into electricity more effectively. It uses advanced energy storage technologies, such as high-capacity batteries or ultracapacitors, to efficiently store and utilize solar-generated energy. Some other key patent filers in this space include Kia and Toyota Motor.

In terms of application diversity, Iljin Global leads the pack, while Tamiras Per and ENow stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Smart Auto Labs held the top position, followed by Panasonic and DD Dannar.

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.