ADAS, Articles, Connected Car, Smart Mobility, Vehicle Automation

The most innovative Premium Car Manufacturers

For the 12th consecutive time, the Center of Automotive Management (CAM) has rated the innovation power of 20 global premium car brands. Last year the study identified 1.155 vehicle-related innovations systematically evaluated and weighted according to the M.O.B.IL approach (maturity, originality, customer benefit, innovation level), 478 of them were generated by premium brands.

In 2017 the most innovative car manufacturer is Audi. The Ingolstadt-based car manufacturer defends its leading position against Mercedes that it claimed for the first time in 2016. Thanks to 84 particular innovations Audi reached an innovation power of 130 index points (see Figure 1). Highly rated innovations are Audi’s turning assistant with emergency brake function used in the models Q5 and Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro as Diesel-Plug-In-Hybrid-SUV, as well as the congestion assistant applied in the small SUV Q2.

Audi has got a short lead in front of Mercedes in terms of innovation strength and total number of innovations/global novelties. Tesla only produced 26 innovations, but scores with its innovation strength which takes the Californians up to third place.

Audi is closely followed by Mercedes-Benz, which repeated its second place from 2016. Above all Mercedes scores with the new E-class packed with a large number of innovations, such as the active lane change assistant or the collision warning system with crosswalk detection. The Mercedes SL contributed to the good result with its brake assistant for intersections. Mercedes also takes the second place after Audi (31) in terms global novelties providing 23 innovations in that category.

Surprisingly electrical expert Tesla managed to maintain its strong innovation performance in 2017 and ousted BMW from the third place. Both actual series models Model S and Model X and pilot series Model 3 innovations are counted in the evaluation. Compared to Audi and Mercedes, Tesla shows a rather low number of innovations (26 compared to 84) but scores with numerous highly rated global novelties in the fields “Autonomous Driving”, “Connectivity” and, of course, “Electric Mobility”. Tesla is also sending into running today’s car with the highest electric reach: The Model S P100D.

Places 4 and 5 are taken by BMW and Volvo. BMW lost its third place to Tesla due to the new BMW 5 series, which admittedly possesses many innovations but will be fully classified as a series vehicle as late as in 2018. Volvo’s innovation trump card, the 90 series (S90/V90), is packed with features such as the collision-avoidance technology detecting large animals. This innovation enables Volvo to climb up one position in the ranking. The top ten innovation premium car manufacturers are completed by Bentley (6), Land Rover (7), Porsche (8), Genesis (9) and Jaguar (10).

The leaderboard broken down to the different technology sectors. Audi wins the categories “interface & connectivity” and “concepts & chassis” which is enough for taking the first place in the total ranking (see far left).

The companies‘ innovation strength differs strongly depending on the technology sector. The field “alternative drive” is clearly led by Tesla, whereas Mercedes-Benz is maintaining the first place in the category “autonomous driving & ADAS”, closely followed by Tesla and Audi. Latter dominates the categories “interface & connectivity” and “concepts & chassis”.

On May 4, 2017 the annual prize ceremony of the AutomotiveINNOVATIONS Award took place in Frankfurt am Main for the sixth time. The most innovative car manufacturers and suppliers are determined on the basis of the CAM study results and are awarded by the Center of Automotive Management and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

About the author:

Prof. Dr. Stefan Bratzel is the director and founder of the independent Center of Automotive Management (CAM) at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach. His main research topics are innovation trends and performance dynamics of the automotive industry. Website:

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