The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in worm gear steering is driven by efficiency and performance improvement, noise reduction and durability, environmental concerns, and growing importance of technologies such as advanced lubrication and manufacturing techniques, electro-mechanical systems, and adaptive and automated systems. 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: worm gear steering. 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 handing 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 the 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

Worm gear steering is a key innovation area in automotive

Worm gear steering is a system that uses a worm gear mechanism to transmit power and control the movement of a vehicle's steering. The system consists of a steering wheel, a worm gear, and a steering mechanism, which work together to enable the driver to turn the vehicle.

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 worm gear steering.

Key players in worm gear steering – 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 worm gear steering

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Chudenko 1 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Mobis 8 Unlock Company Profile
HL Mando 140 Unlock Company Profile
Showa Sangyo 5 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 5 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 22 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Aero Auto Electromechanical 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 20 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 7 Unlock Company Profile
Chery Automobile 2 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 30 Unlock Company Profile
Nexteer Automotive Group 45 Unlock Company Profile
Nabtesco 9 Unlock Company Profile
ENEOS 5 Unlock Company Profile
JTEKT 96 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 11 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 9 Unlock Company Profile
KYB 9 Unlock Company Profile
Mando China 1 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch 1 Unlock Company Profile
Namyang Industry 8 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 42 Unlock Company Profile
JX Nippon Oil and Energy 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

HL Mando is one of the leading patent filers in worm gear steering. The company has developed innovative precision manufacturing techniques for worm gear components. Advanced machining, gear shaping, and heat treatment processes are optimized to enhance the durability and performance of worm gear steering systems. HL Mando has introduced new materials or material compositions for worm gears that offer superior strength, reduced weight, and increased wear resistance. Innovations in metallurgy and the adoption of advanced composite materials could significantly enhance the characteristics of worm gear components. Some other key patent filers in this space include JTEKT and Nexteer Automotive.

In terms of application diversity, Hitachi leads the pack, while ENEOS and JX Nippon Oil and Energy and stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, ThyssenKrupp held the top position, followed by KYB and Nabtesco.

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.