The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by strict emission regulations for enhancing fuel efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as electric turbochargers (e-turbos), wastegate turbocharger and geometry turbocharger. 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 turbochargers.

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 turbochargers is a key innovation area in automotive

In an internal combustion engine, a turbocharger (often called a turbo) is a forced induction device that is driven by the flow of exhaust gases. It utilises the energy to compress the intake gas, compelling more air into the engine in order to create more power for a given displacement.

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 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of vehicle turbochargers.

Key players in vehicle turbochargers - 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 turbochargers

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
BorgWarner 423 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 302 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 249 Unlock company profile
Garrett Motion 215 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 181 Unlock company profile
Continental 162 Unlock company profile
IHI 123 Unlock company profile
ABB 117 Unlock company profile
Bosch Mahle Turbo Systems 107 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 102 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 102 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 90 Unlock company profile
IHI Charging System International 71 Unlock company profile
FountainVest Partners 53 Unlock company profile
General Motors 49 Unlock company profile
Cummins 47 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 46 Unlock company profile
Benteler International 41 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 39 Unlock company profile
Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies 30 Unlock company profile
Schaeffler 29 Unlock company profile
Raytheon Technologies 28 Unlock company profile
SECI 18 Unlock company profile
Atlas Copco 17 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 15 Unlock company profile
General Electric 15 Unlock company profile
Kia 14 Unlock company profile
Wartsila 14 Unlock company profile
AB SKF 14 Unlock company profile
AB Volvo 13 Unlock company profile
Caterpillar 11 Unlock company profile
AVL List 11 Unlock company profile
Aisin 10 Unlock company profile
Williamsmpanies 10 Unlock company profile
Otics 10 Unlock company profile
Marelli Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 8 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 8 Unlock company profile
Energy Recovery 8 Unlock company profile
Wescast Industries 8 Unlock company profile
Abb Turbine System 7 Unlock company profile
American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings 7 Unlock company profile
JTEKT 7 Unlock company profile
CNH Industrial 6 Unlock company profile
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group 6 Unlock company profile
MAN B&W Diesel 6 Unlock company profile
Naigai 5 Unlock company profile
Gunma Prefecture 5 Unlock company profile
Renault 5 Unlock company profile
Mavel 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

BorgWarner is one of the leading innovative players in vehicle turbochargers and has filed 423 patents. BorgWarner’s product portfolio for light vehicles includes the regulated two-stage (R2S®) turbocharging system and the latest turbine geometry (VTG) turbochargers. The VTG turbochargers ensure precise adjustment to the relevant engine operative points. Equipped with adjustable, electrically actuated vanes that control the pressure upstream of the turbine, the VTG turbochargers enable nearly instant acceleration and optimum power output. Porsche, Mitsubishi, Honeywell International, IHI and Toyota are other leading companies with a high number of patent filings in vehicle turbochargers.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive.


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.