The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in turbocharger shaft bearings is driven by increased engine efficiency, reduced friction and wear, enhanced performance, and growing importance of technologies such as ball bearings, twin or dual ball bearings, oil and lubrication technology. 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: turbocharger shaft bearings. 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

Turbocharger shaft bearings is a key innovation area in automotive

Turbocharger shaft bearings are components used in turbochargers to support the rotational shaft. They aid in minimizing friction, enabling seamless shaft rotation, thereby enhancing the turbocharger's performance and efficiency.

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 turbocharger shaft bearings.

Key players in turbocharger shaft bearings – 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 turbocharger shaft bearings

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Marelli 31 Unlock Company Profile
NTT 20 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 46 Unlock Company Profile
FountainVest Partners 115 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 182 Unlock Company Profile
IHI 508 Unlock Company Profile
ABB 117 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 84 Unlock Company Profile
Atlas Copco 19 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 29 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 21 Unlock Company Profile
Benteler International 63 Unlock Company Profile
MinebeaMitsumi 19 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 64 Unlock Company Profile
Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies 27 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 188 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar 97 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 42 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 495 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 128 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 29 Unlock Company Profile
Taiho Kogyo 36 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 39 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 140 Unlock Company Profile
BorgWarner 1197 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 547 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 185 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 41 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 59 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 36 Unlock Company Profile
Bosch Mahle Turbo Systems 125 Unlock Company Profile
Garrett Motion 356 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

BorgWarner is one of the leading patent filers in turbocharger shaft bearings. The company develops innovative bearing materials or coatings with enhanced durability, reduced friction, and improved heat resistance, to optimize bearing performance within turbochargers. BorgWarner’s high-performance bearing designs focus on reducing rotational inertia, minimizing frictional losses, and enhancing load-bearing capacities to improve turbocharger responsiveness and efficiency. Some other key patent filers in this space include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and IHI.

In terms of application diversity, Kia  leads the pack, while United Technologies and Robert Bosch Stiftung stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Kawasaki Heavy Industries held the top position, followed by Benteler International and Mitsubishi.

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.