The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in telescopic drive shafts is driven by smart manufacturing and production techniques, regulatory requirements and emissions standards, weight reduction and fuel efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as lubrication and sealing technologies, forging and machining techniques, and smart sensing technologies. 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: telescopic drive shafts. 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

Telescopic drive shafts is a key innovation area in automotive

A telescopic drive shaft is a type of mechanical device that allows an axle to move in and out, therefore, adjusting the length of the drive shaft. It consists of two or more tubular shafts that can slide in and out of one another, allowing for changes in length of the shaft. Telescopic drive shafts are commonly used in vehicles with a long wheelbase and agricultural implements to transfer rotation from a power source.

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 telescopic drive shafts.

Key players in telescopic drive shafts – 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 telescopic drive shafts

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
CNH Industrial 6 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce 5 Unlock Company Profile
American Axle & Manufacturing 12 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 64 Unlock Company Profile
Faurecia 4 Unlock Company Profile
Isuzu Motors 4 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 6 Unlock Company Profile
Melrose Industries 14 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 14 Unlock Company Profile
NSK 40 Unlock Company Profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 16 Unlock Company Profile
Moog 7 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 20 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 182 Unlock Company Profile
Nexteer Automotive Group 20 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 13 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 3 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 8 Unlock Company Profile
JTEKT 115 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 13 Unlock Company Profile
Nitta 12 Unlock Company Profile
Stihl 6 Unlock Company Profile
Yamada Manufacturing 4 Unlock Company Profile
JMV 17 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 9 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

ThyssenKrupp is one of the leading patent filers in telescopic drive shafts. The company introduced new high-strength materials or advanced alloy compositions suitable for drive shafts, contributing to increased strength, durability, and weight reduction. ThyssenKrupp’s advanced telescopic drive shaft designs incorporate innovative telescopic mechanisms, materials, and geometries to optimize flexibility, adjustability, and durability, while meeting specific vehicle requirements. Some other key patent filers in this space include JTEKT and Dana.

In terms of application diversity, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft leads the pack, while Rolls-Royceand ThyssenKrupp stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Nitta held the top position, followed by ThyssenKrupp and Boeing.

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.