Global R&D investments by automotive and truck companies is expected to increase by about 1.6% in 2018 to $99.8 billion. U.S. R&D in the same areas will
increase by about 1.4% to $3.9 billion. Outside of traditional
development work performed by these companies on new
model and new product introductions, the car manufacturers
are investing substantial resources in the development of 100%
electric vehicles and in autonomously driven vehicles.
Complicating the overall picture is the introduction of a completely new line of vehicles named Lynk from China’s Zhejiang
Geely. Initial Lynk models will be conventional with electric versions that will be introduced later. The upscale brand is expected
to match foreign rivals. China’s Zotye Auto also introduced a
new electric car brand in November in a joint venture with Ford.
Export versions of these electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to
compete on a pricing standpoint with U.S. and European vehicles.
R&D investments by the largest car manufacturers are shown in the Table. All manufacturers
are shown with increasing R&D investments
from 2016 to 2018, except for Volkswagen (VW).
VW reduced its R&D temporarily following its
recall of diesel vehicles for falsifying emission
testing results. The company experienced large
government fines and a substantial drop in sales.
Japan is the Leader
Japan is recognized for its technological expertise in the automotive industry. The automotive
industry is the lone area where the U.S. is not
recognized as the technological leader—Japan
takes that honor for this industry. In its continuing
R&D for improving the quality and performance
of its vehicles, Toyota recently announced the
development of a new solid-state lithium battery
system for electric vehicles. Toyota has stated that
it plans to bring solid-state electrolyte batteries to
the marketplace by 2020 with a charge time that is
measured in minutes. These new batteries use thin
separators between the battery cells. The new batteries could hold up to twice the charge of conventional lithium-ion batteries, weigh less, are more
durable and are not prone to catching fire in the
same way as conventional lithium-ion batteries.
Industrial R&D Spenders –
Volkswagen $12.144 $11.572 $10.915
Toyota $9.666 $10.018 $10.370
GeneralMotors $8.100 $8.344 $8.620
Ford Motor Co. $7.300 $7.521 $7.754
Honda Motor Co. $6.642 $6.988 $7.333
TotalTop5 $43.852 $44.443 $44.992
Source: R&D Magazine Survey 2017
Automotive R&D Focusing on New Technologies
Industry analysts are noting that General Motors (GM) is making significant progress on electrification and autonomy and is
likely to catch and surpass Tesla in the production, performance
and quality of electric vehicles where Tesla is currently struggling
with quality issues. While GM has excelled in the EV’s R&D
arena and looks to surpass Tesla in the future, Ford has fallen significantly behind GM in the technology. For its part, Ford’s new
CEO Jim Hackett has stated that his company is looking beyond
the autonomous car and focusing its R&D on mobility issues.
2016 Global 2016 U.S. 2017 Global 2017 U.S. 2018 Global 2018 U.S.
Automotive R&D Spending
34. 8 35. 9 35. 4
Japan is recognized for its
technological expertise in
the automotive industry.
Source: R&D Magazine Survey 2017