Innovation is what drives the automotive industry. They have always promoted society and industry. The Center for Automotive Management (CAM) has been identifying the best innovation achievements among manufacturers and suppliers as part of the AutomotiveINNOVATIONS study since 2005. Based on an extensive database of more than 1000 innovations per year, CAM, as well as an audit and consulting firm of PwC Germany, has been recognizing the most innovative groups, brands and products in the automotive industry for eleven years.
In the current OEM position, Mercedes-Benz Group AG wins the title as the most innovative automotive group and was awarded as the Mercedes-Benz brand in four other categories. With an index value of 134, the Stuttgart-based group takes first place, as it did in 2019, ahead of Volkswagen AG (125) and – already a little behind – Tesla (87). SAIC (71), fifth last year, has risen one place to fourth as the best Chinese company, ahead of Geely (70). After fourth place last year, BMW got sixth place this time.
An important reason for the success of Mercedes-Benz is the highest level of global innovation among car manufacturers in the world, almost 50 percent. Therefore, the manufacturer lives up to its reputation as a pioneer in the world of cars, according to CAM in the current statement to the media. Among other things, Mercedes-Benz scored points in the electric car area with the EQS, which has the lowest consumption of electric cars in the luxury class segment. In the field of connectivity technology, Mercedes-Benz impresses with innovative works in the area of lighting and steering systems, which can be updated “over the air”.
“Along with Mercedes-Benz and VW, the two German manufacturers lead the pack and also lead many technology categories with their flagship brands. But for the first time, two Chinese companies are among the top 5 car manufacturers. Among the volume brands, the area of electric drives is also dominated by Chinese brands such as BYD or Maxus, which occupy the first three positions. This is the latest result of the process of finding Chinese players that has been going on for many years in terms of creative power. Even in innovative areas, newcomers like Xpeng or Nio are now trying to compete with German brands and have Tesla as a role model.“, comments Felix Kuhnert, Automotive Leader at PwC Germany.
The decision-making basis for the AutomotiveINNOVATIONS Awards is an annual survey based on the CAM innovation database. Since 2005, the institution led by Prof. Stefan Bratzel examines the product innovations of international car groups and evaluates them according to quantitative and qualitative criteria. For the year 2021, CAM analyzed the innovations of 28 car manufacturers worldwide and visitors with about 80 car brands. A total of 657 individual inventions were evaluated. Among them are the first 179 of the world. Criteria such as maturity, originality, customer benefit and level of innovation were included in the evaluation.
VW leads the volume brands, Mercedes-Benz in the premium brands, EQS wins the model position
As was the case last year, among volume manufacturers, Volkswagen leads the ranking as the most innovative brand in 2022, followed by Ford and BYD. VW scores particularly high in the area of ”autonomous driving/ADAS” and democratizes innovations such as adaptive cruise control with topological functions or the Level 2 “Travel Assist” system in the small car class (Polo). and a small SUV (Taigo) . In the car area, VW expands its range with the ID.BUZZ, among other things, and improves the existing models at the same time, for example with the high charging capacity in the ID.3 as a world first in the segment.
In the “Interface & Connectivity” category, Volkswagen also wins the race for audio brands. From 2022, the “Connected Services” area will be added as a new category with the most important internet services in the areas of infotainment, autonomous driving, e-commerce and internet financial services. Here too, the VW brand takes first place ahead of the new Chinese Xpeng, followed by Ford. VW’s range of connected services ranges from its own charging network (Electrifiy America) to enabling autonomous driving functionality and payments subsidiary PayByPhone.
Among the premium brands, Mercedes-Benz is far ahead. As was the case last year, Tesla and BMW also enter the top 3 in this segment. Mercedes-Benz’s strengths lie above all in the area of electric vehicles, but also in connection with driving concepts and innovative displays. The Mercedes-Benz EQS in particular gets many world firsts, such as the main screen with dynamic feedback function.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS also wins the award as the most innovative model of 2022. The new C-Class is also followed by the Mercedes model, with the BMW iX taking third place. As a provider of advanced technology, the EQS convinces in several areas, for example in terms of driving, in addition to its low consumption, it also has the second longest range in the world in the luxury class segment.
Not surprisingly, Mercedes-Benz is also the number one brand winner for drives. However, three Chinese companies in the first three positions in the list of powertrain products by volume is the first in the history of the AutomotiveINNOVATIONS Awards. BYD ranks first ahead of Maxus (SAIC Group) and GAC, followed by Volkswagen and Ford in fourth and fifth place respectively. BYD is launching its innovative “Blade” and Dolphin battery technology in the small car segment and, together with the “X Dream Concept” study, presents a vision of a long-range and fast-charging SUV (145 km in 5 minutes).
Tesla is a leader in autonomous driving and connected services
In the area of autonomous driving/ADAS, on the other hand, Californian manufacturer Tesla ranks first as the most innovative brand. Tesla is a pioneer in Level 2+ autonomous driving, where the car can drive independently in a range of applications such as highways and city traffic, but the driver must monitor the system at all times. As part of the beta version, Tesla is already offering this functionality in its models (including the Model 3) to a limited number of users.
Tesla is also an award winner in the new “Connected Services” category, where internet services, related to the car are included in the evaluation in the sense of analysis of the situation from 2012 to 2021. Tesla covers all important areas from charging and internet services the global Supercharger fast payment to infotainment platform for arcade games and data-based car insurance and real-time tolls. Additionally, Tesla’s autonomous driving and parking functions can already be updated over the OTA and are therefore available as a service.
Prof. Stefan Bratzel, Director of CAM, says: “In addition to electronics, an ever-changing ecosystem of Internet services is becoming a key success factor for automakers. To do so, all authorized manufacturers must expand their core competencies in these future fields and enter into strategic partnerships with relevant digital players for faster time-to-market..”
Four suppliers with technological solutions starting in the fields of the future
About 400 original designs from car dealers were also evaluated as part of the study. The AutomotiveINNOVATIONS Awards are presented in four categories by a jury of experts for the best innovations. In the field of drives, innovation in the field of “cell chemistry” from BASF was able to assert itself. The high-energy HEDTM-NCM cathode material should ensure high energy density and thus enable a long electric vehicle range and low costs. The Hyundai Mobis is an award winner in the “Chassis, Body & Exterior” category with the E-Corner module, which combines steering, braking, suspension and driving systems. It allows the easy use of platforms thanks to the variable wheel and the wheel rotation of 90 degrees for side driving and turning instantly.
Kautex-Textron is pleased with the software-controlled cleaning system called “Allegro Premium” for environmental sensors, whose cleanliness is of critical operational and safety importance for assisted or autonomous operations. The system increases the utility of support systems customers because it increases the availability of systems under severe weather conditions.
The “Interior and Interface” category is dominated this year by Bosch with its “Ridecare” car sharing service. The first feature of the Ridecare series is smoke and damage detection. Using cloud-based data analytics and artificial intelligence, participating service providers receive critical information transparently and in real time about whether a vehicle has broken down or been towed. Innovation is therefore a driving force behind the spread of car supply, as it covers an aspect of interior cleaning that is often criticized in practice.
Source: CAM – press release of 07/14/2022