Volkswagen leads global automotive innovations, Tata Motors sole Indian OEM in Top 10

by Nilesh Wadhwa 27 Dec 2019

Volkswagen is the world’s top innovative company in the automotive world. This is according to a study by the Center of Automotive Management (CAM), an independent German institute for empirical automotive research and strategic advice.

Study conducted by the Center of Automotive Management (CAM)

The findings are based on over 1,300 categories and individually assessed, vehicle technology innovations between 2018-2019 and the future trends adopted by 42 automotive groups and 96 brands from Europe, Japan, USA and China. The current study analysed the automotive innovations and is based on over 2,500 innovations, which were produced in series models between 2016 and first half of 2019.

Volkswagen most innovative, Daimler with most world-firsts
The study finds that the Volkswagen Group is the most innovative automobile manufacturer with more than 460 innovations in series, followed by Daimler and BMW. CAM says Volkswagen's current sales strength and high profits should also be due to its innovative strength.

However, when we talk of the ‘world’s first innovations’ specifically, Daimler leads the ranking with 77 innovations (eg A-Class with MBUX operating concept, aerodynamics B-Class), followed by Volkswagen, which has 73 such innovations (eg Audi Q7 bottleneck assistant, VW Touraeg Curved Display) and BMW in the third place with 41 (eg X5 reversing assistant, 5 series induction charging system).

The German automobile manufacturers are leaders in many technology fields, particularly in the operating and display concepts, connectivity and driver assistance systems as well as with plug-in hybrids. However, there are deficits in the area of pure electro-mobility (BEV), with Volkswagen in particular going into the next year’s top group (including ID.3).

The list includes only one Indian OEM, Tata Motors with over 95 innovations and nine ‘world’s first innovations’ to its credit. The Mumbai-based automaker ranks seventh globally.

The most innovative car groups in 2019
Commenting on the findings, Stefan Bratzel, study director, CAM said, “The real technological strength of Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW is significantly better than the general public perception. The three German automobile manufacturers currently account for more than a third of the total innovative strength of all 38 groups."

"Nevertheless, the industry is facing enormous challenges in future technologies such as electro-mobility, autonomous driving and mobility services, as well as new competitors like Tesla and the big data players like Alphabet, Alibaba. In particular, the competence fields of software, data and mobility services will have to be mastered even better by German manufacturers in the future, so that they do not fall behind or lose contact in this transformation period. Strategic cooperation will play an increasingly important role here," he added.

The analysis reveals that the three German manufacturers and Tesla defended their top rankings from 2013-2015. However, the respective distances have become less competitive. Interestingly, Hyundai-Kia Group has jumped seven spots to the fifth position from the 12th with 149 innovations, closely behind Tesla. Other noteworthy rank holders include China's Geely Group (including Volvo) which has jumped from 11th to the sixth place and PSA from 16th to the eighth place.

OEMs that saw their innovation drive drop include the American manufacturer Ford (that slipped to ninth position from sixth) and General Motors (that is at the 10th position now, down from fifth). Toyota has slipped to the 12th position from ninth despite 73 innovations. CAM says that the lack of any major innovations is a key factor in this case. Toyota is currently at par with Chinese SAIC group, which is at the 17th place. Honda too has slipped from its 7th position to 14th now and Nissan is at the 16th position down from 10th.