The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in tunable hydraulic shock absorbers is driven by ride quality, comfort, handling, stability, regulatory compliance, and safety standards, and growing importance of technologies such as electro-hydraulic valves, magnetorheological (MR) fluids, solenoid valves, and control systems. 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: tunable hydraulic shock absorbers. 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 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

Tunable hydraulic shock absorbers is a key innovation area in automotive

Tunable hydraulic shock absorbers are a suspension system utilizing hydraulic fluid to manage wheel movement in vehicles. Comprising a cylinder housing, piston, and damper rod filled with hydraulic fluid, this system allows for vehicle height and suspension adjustments by manipulating the piston and damper rod.

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 tunable hydraulic shock absorbers.

Key players in tunable hydraulic shock absorbers – 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 tunable hydraulic shock absorbers

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Immsi 15 Unlock Company Profile
Bridgestone 25 Unlock Company Profile
Isuzu Motors 22 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 11 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 40 Unlock Company Profile
Benteler International 11 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 82 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 13 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 17 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha Motor 13 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 16 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 19 Unlock Company Profile
SKF 28 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 18 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 52 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 99 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 38 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 112 Unlock Company Profile
Tenneco 13 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 24 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 11 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 95 Unlock Company Profile
Polaris 15 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 17 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 49 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 15 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 78 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 71 Unlock Company Profile
KYB 48 Unlock Company Profile
Vibracoustic 26 Unlock Company Profile
Boler 66 Unlock Company Profile
SAF-HOLLAND 11 Unlock Company Profile
Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus 12 Unlock Company Profile
Vibracoustic Nantes 14 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 56 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Porsche Automobil is one of the leading patent filers in tunable hydraulic shock absorbers. The company  integrates  tunable shock absorbers with  dynamic vehicle systems, enhancing overall vehicle dynamics, traction, and stability. It utilizes advanced hydraulic technologies and components within shock absorbers to improve responsiveness, adjustability, and performance across varying driving conditions. Some other key patent filers in the space include Honda Motor and BMW.

In terms of application diversity, BASF leads the pack, while Tenneco and Yamaha Motor stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Immsi held the top position, followed by Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT and  Boler Company.

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.