Volkswagen AG claimed bragging rights as the auto industry's top r&d spender last year, according to an annual study compiled by Strategy&, a consulting business launched by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The study ranked 1,000 public companies -- automotive and non-automotive -- by the size of their research budgets. Volkswagen's $15.3 billion expenditure beat all automotive rivals by a big margin, while Toyota was second at $9.2 billion, and Daimler was third with $7.6 billion.
The auto industry's Top 20 list includes a couple of new arrivals, with China's SAIC Motor Corp. at 19th and Kia Motors Corp. at 20th.
The top automotive supplier was Denso Corp. at $3.6 billion, followed by Continental AG and Aisin Seiki Co.
Since the study was limited to publicly traded firms, privately held companies such as Robert Bosch GmbH were excluded.
To be sure, sheer expenditures don't guarantee results. So Strategy& conducts an annual poll of executives to see which companies are considered most innovative.
This time, two automakers made the Top 10 list of innovators. Tesla debuted at No. 3, behind Apple and Google. And Toyota rejoined the list at No. 10 after a three-year absence.