The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for cabin comfort, and emergence of autonomous vehicles, and growing importance of technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. 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: Vehicle PTC air heaters. Buy the report here.

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

Vehicle PTC air heaters is a key innovation area in automotive

Positive temperature coefficient (PTC) air heaters are self-regulating electric heaters used in addition to the heater core and are usually placed after the heater core or sometimes in ducts for footwell heating. PTC air heater cores have been added to climate control systems to compensate for insufficient heating on high-efficiency engines.

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 PTC air heaters.

Key players in vehicle PTC air heaters – 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 vehicle PTC air heaters

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Valeo 153 Unlock company profile
Eberspacher Gruppe 145 Unlock company profile
Mahle 131 Unlock company profile
Hanon Systems 63 Unlock company profile
BorgWarner 53 Unlock company profile
Kia 29 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 28 Unlock company profile
BYD 24 Unlock company profile
catem 22 Unlock company profile
DBK David+Baader 20 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 16 Unlock company profile
Eichenauer Heizelemente 14 Unlock company profile
Wory Industry Company 10 Unlock company profile
Boeing 8 Unlock company profile
Denso 8 Unlock company profile
Amosense 7 Unlock company profile
Mazda Motor 7 Unlock company profile
Webasto 7 Unlock company profile
Dongahhiteck 7 Unlock company profile
Eltek 6 Unlock company profile
Daewoo Electronic Components 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Valeo is a key player in the vehicle PTC air heaters innovation area. The company offers a wide range of PTC air heaters to adapt to the power needs and to speed up cabin warming when the engine is still cold. They are intended for use whenever there is a need for additional heating. The PTC heaters can be infinitely adjusted by means of an electronic control unit developed by Valeo. Eberspacher, Mahle, Hanon Systems, BorgWarner, and Hyundai are some of the other key players.

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.