New ideas and innovation are generally considered to be driving forces for society as well as for the economy – and of course also for the automotive industry. The Center for Automotive Management (CAM) at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach (North Rhine-Westphalia) has been analyzing the innovative performance of automotive manufacturers and suppliers every year since 2005. Together with the auditing and consulting firm PwC Germany, CAM has been honoring the industry’s most innovative organizations, brands and products for eleven years.
Mercedes-Benz AG won the title as the most innovative car company in 2022, and the eponymous brand received awards 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 – by some distance – 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 secured sixth place this time.
Mercedes-Benz with the highest level of first players in the world
According to the current CAM research, Mercedes-Benz has the highest level of global innovation among global players in the automotive industry in the current period of analysis (that is the year 2021). The EQS model shines with the lowest power consumption among battery-powered luxury cars. In the area of lighting and operating systems, he provides innovative works that are frequent on the air it can be updated and is therefore persuasive in the technological field of connectivity.
According to the study, two German manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz and VW, lead the group and also lead many technology categories with their main 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 acquiring Chinese players that has been going on for many years in terms of innovation power. Foreigners such as Xpeng or Nio are now also trying to compete with German brands in the innovation segment with Tesla as an example to be emulated,” comments Felix Kuhnert, Automotive Leader at PwC Germany.
“In addition to electronics, the constantly updated ecosystem of Internet services is becoming a key success factor for car manufacturers,” says Stefan Bratzel, Director of CAM. To do so, all established manufacturers will have to “significantly expand their core capabilities in these future fields and enter into strategic partnerships with relevant digital players”.
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.
Tesla is a leader in autonomous driving and connected services
In the field of autonomous driving/driver assistance systems, California manufacturer Tesla is the most innovative premium brand in CAM research. Tesla is a pioneer in Level 2+ autonomous driving, in which the car can drive largely independently on highways and in 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 also becomes an award winner in the new category integrated services, where networked, vehicle-related services are included in the CAM rating. Tesla covers all the important areas from charging services and the Supercharger fast charging network to infotainment and Apple’s gaming platform to data-based car insurance and real-time taxation. Additionally, Tesla’s autonomous driving and parking operations can already be updated over the air and are therefore available as a service.
Suppliers with pioneering technological innovations in the fields of the future
Around 400 innovations from automotive suppliers are also evaluated as part of the CAM study. Germany’s BASF Group leads the list of technical innovations to increase the range of electric vehicles at lower costs. Machine builder Kautex Textron from Bonn impresses with software-controlled cleaning sensors for environmental sensors. Big seller Bosch stands out with its ridecare car sharing services. For example, a new series of functions from Bosch in car-sharing vehicles enable the detection of smoke and damage via the Internet using cloud-based data analysis and artificial intelligence.