The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in sulfur-crosslinked rubber tires is driven by performance enhancement, fuel efficiency, durability, longevity, and rolling resistance, and growing importance of technologies such as rubber compounding techniques, sulfur vulcanization, and curing and vulcanizing agents. 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: sulfur-crosslinked rubber tires. 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

Sulfur-crosslinked rubber tires is a key innovation area in automotive

Sulfur-crosslinking is a common process used to strengthen rubber in the production of tires. This process involves adding sulfur and other additives to rubber compounds to increase the polymer crosslinking density, leading to improved durability, wear resistance, and heat generation performance.

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 sulfur-crosslinked rubber tires.

Key players in sulfur-crosslinked rubber tires – 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 sulfur-crosslinked rubber tires

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Bridgestone 411 Unlock Company Profile
Camfin 85 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin 464 Unlock Company Profile
Yokohama Rubber 81 Unlock Company Profile
Trinseo 15 Unlock Company Profile
Zeon 19 Unlock Company Profile
Toyo Tire 9 Unlock Company Profile
Eastman Chemical 3 Unlock Company Profile
Reliance Industries 3 Unlock Company Profile
Nokian Tyres 14 Unlock Company Profile
Kuraray 59 Unlock Company Profile
JSR 18 Unlock Company Profile
Haci Omer Sabanci 15 Unlock Company Profile
Milliken 13 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsui Chemicals 12 Unlock Company Profile
Goodyear Tire & Rubber 104 Unlock Company Profile
Hankook Tire & Technology 24 Unlock Company Profile
Asahi Kasei 57 Unlock Company Profile
LG 13 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Chemical 17 Unlock Company Profile
Sanyo Chemical Industries 3 Unlock Company Profile
Apollo Tyres 3 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 9 Unlock Company Profile
Kao 10 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 80 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 257 Unlock Company Profile
Seino 18 Unlock Company Profile
Otsuka 30 Unlock Company Profile
China Baowu Steel Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
Sennics 21 Unlock Company Profile
Polydrop 4 Unlock Company Profile
Emesta 8 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin (Michelin) is one of the leading patent filers in sulfur-crosslinked rubber tires. The company has developed unique rubber compounds or tread designs to optimize the sulfur-crosslinking process, enhancing tire performance, grip, and longevity. Michelin has introduced advanced manufacturing techniques or processes for producing sulfur-crosslinked rubber tires more efficiently, improving quality control and reducing environmental impact. Some other key patent filers in this space include Bridgestone and Sumitomo Electric Industries.

In terms of application diversity, Haci Omer Sabanci leads the pack, while Emesta and China Baowu Steel stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Trinseo held the top position, followed by Milliken  and Nokian Tyres.

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.