The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for increased comfort and enhanced driving experience, and growing importance of technologies such as machine learning and Internet of Things. 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 upholstery. Buy the report here.
However, not all innovations are equal, 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 upholstery is a key innovation area in automotive
Vehicle upholstery refers to the materials and coverings used to furnish the interior of a vehicle, including the seats, door panels, headliners, dashboard, and other surfaces. It involves the application of various materials such as fabric, leather, vinyl, or synthetic materials to provide comfort, aesthetics, and durability to the vehicle's interior.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each vehicle upholstery and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 60+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of vehicle upholstery.
Key players in vehicle upholstery – 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 upholstery
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Toray Industries is a key player in the vehicle upholstery innovation area. Toray’s upholstery fabrics are made from luxurious ULTRASUEDE or partially plant derived ECODEAR polyester, which helps car manufacturers create more comfortable and environmentally friendly seats. Toray’s upholstery makes vehicles quieter, more attractive, and more comfortable to ride. Modern Meadow, Continental, Teijin, and B&C Private Foundation 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.