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, and 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: Toothed clutches. 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

Toothed clutches is a key innovation area in automotive

Tooth clutches transmit torque through the engagement of interlocking teeth. A tooth clutch can transmit more torque compared to a friction clutch due to positive tooth engagement.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of toothed clutches.

Key players in toothed clutches – 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 toothed clutches

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Motor 47 Unlock Company Profile
JTEKT 45 Unlock Company Profile
Melrose Industries 44 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 42 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 38 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 33 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 33 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 31 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 29 Unlock Company Profile
Dover 25 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 24 Unlock Company Profile
American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings 22 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 21 Unlock Company Profile
Musashi Seimitsu Industry 19 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 18 Unlock Company Profile
MTD Products 12 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 11 Unlock Company Profile
GKN Driveline Bruneck 10 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 9 Unlock Company Profile
Koch Industries 9 Unlock Company Profile
LKQ 9 Unlock Company Profile
Atlas Copco 9 Unlock Company Profile
Dewertokin 9 Unlock Company Profile
GETRAG FORD Transmissions 8 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 8 Unlock Company Profile
Chervon (HK) 8 Unlock Company Profile
Poma Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Horiba 7 Unlock Company Profile
Jing-Jin Electric Technologies 7 Unlock Company Profile
QinetiQ Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
SEW-EURODRIVE 7 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 7 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 6 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 6 Unlock Company Profile
Univance 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 6 Unlock Company Profile
JMV 6 Unlock Company Profile
Premier Coil Solutions 6 Unlock Company Profile
Magna International 5 Unlock Company Profile
TECO Image Systems 5 Unlock Company Profile
Ricardo 5 Unlock Company Profile
Epiroc 5 Unlock Company Profile
HILTI 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota is one of the leading innovators in toothed clutches with 47 patents. The 8-speed Direct Shift-8AT and the 10-speed Direct Shift-10AT are two new automatic transmissions created by Toyota. The new automatic transmissions are designed to increase transmission efficiency and reduce energy loss. The tooth clutches of the transmission are processed using a novel method when the gears engage for a lower coefficient of friction. The friction material used inside the clutch was configured to minimise clutch torque loss during rotation compared to a traditional six-speed transmission. Other companies innovating in this technology domain are JTEKT, Ford, and Dana.

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.