The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by connected and autonomous vehicles, and electrification, and growing importance of technologies such as sensors, packaged heating, and air systems. 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 Internet of Things in Automotive: Vehicle HVAC controllers.

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, acoustic vehicle signalling devices, autonomous parking, and brake pedal sensors are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Vehicle head up displays (HUDs), smart light dimmers, and automatic actuated vehicle doors are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are road slope estimation and V2V distance monitoring, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for IoT in the automotive industry

Vehicle HVAC controllers is a key innovation area in IoT

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) controllers help in maintaining a pleasant climate inside a vehicle by automatically controlling the temperature for the comfort of onboard passengers.

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

Key players in vehicle HVAC controllers – 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 HVAC controllers

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Motor 221 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 212 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 177 Unlock company profile
Kia 140 Unlock company profile
Denso 123 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 107 Unlock company profile
Hanon Systems 98 Unlock company profile
Valeo 97 Unlock company profile
Renault 67 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 59 Unlock company profile
Mahle 57 Unlock company profile
BYD 48 Unlock company profile
General Motors 47 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 46 Unlock company profile
Thunder Power Hong Kong 46 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 34 Unlock company profile
Sanden Holdings 29 Unlock company profile
Marelli Holdings 29 Unlock company profile
Subaru 28 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 27 Unlock company profile
Lucid Group 27 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 24 Unlock company profile
Tesla 23 Unlock company profile
GS Yuasa 21 Unlock company profile
Suzuki Motor 16 Unlock company profile
Stellantis 14 Unlock company profile
TI Fluid Systems 13 Unlock company profile
Samsung SDI 12 Unlock company profile
Siemens 12 Unlock company profile
Gentherm 11 Unlock company profile
Dongfeng Motor 10 Unlock company profile
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group 10 Unlock company profile
Arrival 10 Unlock company profile
LG 10 Unlock company profile
Furukawa Electric 10 Unlock company profile
Thunder Power New Energy Vehicle Development Compa 10 Unlock company profile
Eberspacher Gruppe 9 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment Holding 7 Unlock company profile
Konvekta 7 Unlock company profile
Valeo Japan 7 Unlock company profile
Swatch Group 6 Unlock company profile
Apple 6 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 6 Unlock company profile
Toyota Boshoku 6 Unlock company profile
Ferrari 6 Unlock company profile
Magna International 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota Motor Corporation is one of the leading patent filers in vehicle HVAC controllers. Toyota’s vehicle HVAC controllers help in maintaining temperature and reduce unnecessary energy expenditures. It controls all the functions of the system, such as blower speed, temperature, and direction of the airflow. It is responsible for making sure a vehicle is comfortable and the air inside it remains at a consistent temperature. Hyundai Motor, Ford Motor, Denso, and Kia are some of the other key players.

To further understand how IoT is disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) in 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.