New ideas and inventions are widely regarded as driving forces for both society and the economy – and of course also for the car industry. The Car Management Center (CAM) at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach (North Rhine-Westphalia) has been analyzing the innovation of car manufacturers and suppliers every year since 2005. Together with the audit and consulting company PwC Germany CAM, for eleven years it has been honoring the most innovative corporations, brands and products in the industry.
Mercedes-Benz AG won the title of the most innovative car company in 2022, and the brand of the same name received awards in four other categories. With an index value of 134, the Stuttgart group ranks first, ahead of Volkswagen AG (125) and – at a distance – Tesla (87), as in 2019. SAIC (71), fifth last year, moved up one place to fourth place as the best Chinese company, ahead of Geely (70). After fourth place last year, BMW took sixth place this time.
Mercedes-Benz with the highest index of world novelties
According to the current CAM study, Mercedes-Benz has the highest global innovation rate among global players in the automotive industry in the current analyzed period (i.e. in 2021). The EQS model is distinguished by the lowest energy consumption among luxury electric cars. In the area of lighting and control systems, it offers innovative functions that regularly over the air can be updated and therefore convincing in the field of communication technology.
According to the study, two German manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz and VW, are leaders among the groups and also lead in many technology categories with their main brands. But for the first time, two Chinese companies made it into the top five of car makers. Among the volume brands, the area of electric drives is also dominated by Chinese brands such as BYD and Maxus, which occupy the first three places.
“These are the latest results from a catch-up process by Chinese players that has been going on for years in terms of innovation power. New players such as Xpeng and Nio are now trying to compete with German brands in particularly innovative segments and have Tesla as a role model, ”comments Felix Kuhnert, automotive industry leader at PwC Germany.
“In addition to electromobility, the constantly updated network service ecosystem is becoming a key success factor for car manufacturers,” says Stefan Bratzel, CAM director. To do so, all established manufacturers would have to “massively expand their core competencies in these future fields and establish strategic partnerships with the appropriate digital players.”
For 2021, CAM has analyzed the innovations of 28 global car makers and newcomers with around 80 car brands. A total of 657 individual innovations were assessed. Among them, there are 179 world novelties. The assessment took into account such criteria as maturity, originality, customer benefit and the degree of innovation.
Tesla leads the way in autonomous driving and connected services
In the field of autonomous driving / driver assistance systems, Californian manufacturer Tesla is the most innovative premium brand in the CAM study. Tesla is a pioneer of Level 2+ autonomous driving, where the vehicle can run largely autonomously on the highway and in city traffic, but the driver must constantly monitor the system. As part of the beta version, Tesla already offers this functionality in its models (including Model 3) for a limited number of users.
Tesla is also the winner of the award in a new category connected serviceswhere vehicle related network services are covered by CAM assessment. Tesla covers all important areas, from charging services with the global Supercharger fast charging network, to the infotainment system with Apple’s arcade game platform, to data-driven car insurance with real-time tariffs. Moreover, Tesla’s autonomous driving and parking functions can be updated wirelessly and are therefore available as a service.
Suppliers with pioneering technological innovations in the future
The CAM survey also evaluates around 400 innovations from automotive suppliers. The German BASF group ranks technical innovations aimed at increasing the range of electric cars at a lower cost. Machine builder Kautex Textron from Bonn impresses with the program-controlled sensors for cleaning the environmental sensors. The supplier giant Bosch stands out ride car sharing services. For example, the new Bosch range in carsharing can detect smoke and damage over the internet using cloud-based data analysis and artificial intelligence.