The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need for electrification, safety and comfort, and growing importance of technologies such as cloud computing and Internet of Things. 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: vehicle auxiliary drivesBuy 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 Foresight, 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 handing are useful technologies that are in the early stages of wider 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

Vehicle auxiliary drives is a key innovation area in automotive

The vehicle auxiliary drive belt works with the idlers, tensioners, and pulleys within the accessory drive belt system. It comprises a long rubber belt that pushes power to engine components through a system of pulleys that are driven by the main crankshaft pulley. These engine components include the alternator, the aircon compressor, the power steering pump, and sometimes the water pump.

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 vehicle auxiliary drives.

Key players in vehicle auxiliary drives – 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 vehicle auxiliary drives

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Volvo 16 Unlock Company Profile
CNH Industrial 7 Unlock Company Profile
Liebherr-International 8 Unlock Company Profile
Dana 20 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 17 Unlock Company Profile
Rosenbauer International 8 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 13 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 34 Unlock Company Profile
Power Solutions International 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 11 Unlock Company Profile
Cummins 21 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 9 Unlock Company Profile
Parker Hannifin 16 Unlock Company Profile
Deere 31 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 88 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 22 Unlock Company Profile
Oshkosh 33 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 9 Unlock Company Profile
Kubota 15 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 11 Unlock Company Profile
Toro 9 Unlock Company Profile
Twin Disc 8 Unlock Company Profile
Stellantis 8 Unlock Company Profile
REV Group 16 Unlock Company Profile
Dragon Acquisition 16 Unlock Company Profile
Dayco 8 Unlock Company Profile
Stella Vermogensverwaltungs 10 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 22 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Litens Automotive is the leading patent filer in the vehicle auxiliary drives innovation area. Nissan is another key player, which engages in the production of a v-ribbed belt or vehicle auxiliary drives belt, which keeps the engine accessories running smoothly and efficiently. Nissan’s vehicle auxiliary drive belt can protect the vehicle from overloading caused by slipping of the belt over a pulley and can absorb shock and damp vibration. Porsche Automobil, Schaeffler, Oshkosh, and Deere are some of the other key players.

In terms of application diversity, Toyota Motor held the top position, while CNH Industrial and Volvo stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, REV Group leads the pack, followed by Cummins and Toro 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.