Self-driving technology company Waymo is the leader out of 15 companies developing automated driving systems, while Tesla comes in last, according to the latest leaderboard report from Guidehouse Insights.
The report, released Monday, evaluated the companies and categorized them into leaders, contenders, challengers and followers.
Leaders scored 75 or above in strategy and execution, while contenders earned between 50 and 75. Challengers scored higher than 25 but were deemed not yet contenders, and followers scored below 25.
Waymo scored 85.6 in Guidehouse's leaderboard, while Tesla had the lowest score, 34.7. Waymo, a Google affiliate, was also ranked the top vendor of automated driving vehicles in Guidehouse's leaderboard last year.
Messages left by Automotive News seeking comment from Waymo and Tesla were not immediately returned.
Nvidia Corp., Ford-backed self-driving startup Argo AI and Chinese Internet giant and autonomous driving developer Baidu fall close behind Waymo as leaders in the space, according to the report.
Guidehouse noted that, "each of these companies continue to progress in their development and in particular are growing their portfolio of partners that plan to use their systems."
Guidehouse focused on companies developing the actual automated driving systems for this edition, rather than on companies directly commercializing autonomous vehicles. But some of those included do both. The report also focused only on companies developing for light- to medium-duty vehicles and not heavy-duty systems.
Several self-driving startups were deemed contenders. Although they "have a solid foundation for growth and long-term success, they have not yet attained a superior position in the market," the report said. Among the contenders are General Motors-backed Cruise, Hyundai-Aptiv joint venture Motional, supplier Mobileye and self-driving companies Aurora and Zoox.
Tesla was ranked the only follower. Though it scored higher than 25, Guidehouse used certain variables to determine its placement.
Guidehouse said followers "are not currently expected to challenge the Leaders unless they can substantially alter their strategic vision, expand their resources, and improve their technology."
It also faulted Tesla on overpromising in its marketing and on the capabilities of its technology, which has led to actual safety issues. "Until Tesla is more honest, it is unlikely to improve," the report said.
"There are certainly areas where Tesla has actually improved, things like the staying power score, which is the financial stability of the company, how likely are they to continue in business? That's an area where Tesla in the past has done relatively poorly, but they did much better this year," said Sam Abuelsamid, Guidehouse principal research analyst. "They are no longer in any imminent danger of going bankrupt. But in terms of their technology, despite the release of the full self-driving data, I don't really see any evidence that they've actually progressed relative to the other companies in this sector."
Guidehouse considered several criteria to evaluate manufacturers, including company vision, go-to-market strategy, partners, production strategy and technology. Guidehouse also assessed sales, marketing and distribution, commercial readiness, R&D progress, product portfolio and staying power.
Last year, Guidehouse's leaderboard assessed 18 automated driving companies in the space based on the same criteria, apart from including product capability and product quality and reliability instead of commercial readiness and R&D progress.
In 2020, after Waymo, Ford Autonomous Vehicles, Cruise and Baidu ranked highly, followed by Intel-Mobileye, Aptiv-Hyundai and Volkswagen Group. Yandex, Zoox and Daimler-Bosch rounded out the top 10.
Abuelsamid said he expects the rankings to continue to evolve.
"This is a continuously evolving space," Abuelsamid told Automotive News. "I think what we're going to continue to see is some more consolidation in the sector as some of the players that are maybe struggling, either on the technology side or on the money side, will either continue to shut down or get acquired by some of the companies that are in the upper half of this list."