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VW world's R&D champion, in absolute terms

US companies such as Apple, Google or Microsoft may be undisputed technology leaders. But German carmaker Volkswagen leads the field in terms of spending on research and development, a study shows.

Despite its costly emissions-cheating scandal, German auto maker VW is planning to spend even more on research and development in the fiscal year that started in July.

According to a new study from consultancy PwC, no other company in the world is investing more in its R&D department than Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen Group, which is willing to spend some $13.2 billion (12.2 billion euros) throughout the current fiscal year, marking a $400-million increase over the level reached a year earlier.

But a closer look at the figures provided by PwC reveals that VW is the world's R&D champion only in absolute terms.

When revenues are part of the equation

The German carmaker logs about $200 billion in revenues annually, meaning the R&D spending-to-revenue ratio is only 5.6 percent. It's the highest ration in the global auto industry, but many companies outside that sector boast far more impressive figures.

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Technology giant Intel for instance spends a staggering 21.9 percent of its turnover on research and development. Pharmaceutics companies Roche and Pfizer log a 19.9-percent and 15.7-percent ratio respectively.

PwC points out that 13 of the world's most research-intensive companies are headquartered in the US, with companies in Europe and Germany for that matter losing ground.

"In 2015, 46 German firms were among the world's top 1000 most research-heavy companies; in 2016 this number is down to 42," PwC's Strategy& chief Peter Gassmann said.

There's little movement in the national top 10 ranking. Volkswagen is the undisputed leader, followed by Daimler and Siemens.

hg/jd (dpa, PwC)

 

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