According to a recent study by the Center of Automotive Management at the Bergish Gladbach University of Applied Sciences in Germany, Volkswagen ranks No. 1 when it comes to putting technical innovations into production.
With 64 innovations that made it into cars last year, VW was ahead of second-place Toyota, which introduced 56 innovations that customers can order, according to this study. Ford ranked 3rd, followed by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and General Motors.
VW, like all the 19 global automakers studied, is concentrating its research and development on making cars more fuel efficient. Powertrain innovations helped the automaker win a high score in the study. An example cited by the center is the advances that brought to market an Audi A3 with CO2 emissions of 99 grams per kilometer and fuel economy of 3.8 liters of diesel per 100km (62 U.S. mpg).
Center director Stefan Bratzel believes the contest between VW and Toyota for global leadership will largely be fought on a technological level and green technologies will be decisive. This may allow VW to achieve its primary goal of becoming the No. 1 seller of motor vehicles worldwide, though they still have considerable ground to make up on Toyota in that department.
Bratzel is also reported as having said VW has an advantage because of its greater flexibility, although Toyota is catching up because it is improving the fuel efficiency of its conventional gasoline and diesel powertrains and not just relying on hybrids to boost its green image. “Carmakers strove for faster, bigger and more comfortable cars in the past — now the mantra is to build cost-effective and environmentally friendly vehicles.”