In a recent comparative study, the Center of Automotive Management (CAM), together with the British data analysis company YouGov, analysed both the real innovation strength and the innovation perception of the major electric car OEMs, whereby the investigation of perception focused on a European target audience. For this purpose, consumers had to rate the different car brands in terms of innovativeness in the field of e-mobility.
The innovation strength calculated by CAM in the technology field of electric mobility (EV), consisting of electric passenger cars (BEV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV), comprises the three innovation fields of range, power consumption and charging performance, cumulated in one index value.
With an innovation strength of 178 index points, Tesla emerged from the study as the industry leader in the BEV sector. Elon Musk’s company leads by a wide margin ahead of the Chinese brand BYD (59 points). The Volkswagen brands Porsche (53 points) and Audi (49 points) follow in third and fourth place in the innovation strength ranking. BMW comes in 5th place with 42 points.
The ranking of the most innovative plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, is led by German brands: BMW is in first place with 69 index points, Mercedes in second place with 54 points and Audi in third place with 45 points. The Chinese brand BYD ranks 4th with 33 points and Ford 5th with 27.2 points.
According to the study, YouGov data show a clear correlation between the innovative strength of brands in the EV sector, i.e. both BEVs and PHEVs, and the corresponding perception among consumers in the countries surveyed (r = 0.79). Consumers therefore also perceive innovative car brands as such.
In the perception ranking, Tesla, as mentioned above, climbs to first place. Toyota lands in second place in the consumer perception of innovative strength, but is more in the midfield in the area of actually measured EV innovations. Successful in marketing and consequently in consumer perception is also Polestar: despite the limited offer and the lack of EV innovation strength (rank 25 in the innovation ranking), the respondents perceive Polestar as quite strong in the field of e-mobility: the Swedish brand climbs to rank 3. BMW (rank 4 in the perception ranking), VW (rank 5) and Mercedes (rank 6) and AUDI (rank 8) as German car brands are also seen as innovation leaders among European consumers.
“In Germany, only Tesla is very clearly associated with e-mobility, all other manufacturers follow at an enormous distance. From the consumer’s point of view, Tesla is convincing in all decisive dimensions for e-mobility: innovative capacity, experience and dominance. Although Volkswagen ranks behind Tesla, at least in Germany, no clear positioning with regard to e-mobility can yet be discerned from the consumer perspective. The same applies to brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi or Hyundai,” Sven Runge, Research Solutions Partner at YouGov, comments on the results.
“Innovation strength is of paramount importance for the success of car manufacturers in the ramp-up of e-mobility. It is becoming a condition of survival in the transformation phase of the industry, as the established manufacturers are increasingly challenged by newcomers,” explains Stefan Bratzel, Head of CAM. “There are already striking differences in competence and innovation. Some car manufacturers still show strikingly reactive innovation patterns, in which the previous customer requirements of the combustion engine are merely transferred to electric vehicles. In the future, manufacturers will only be successful if they have the entire ecosystem of electromobility in view and realise new desires and extended customer benefits with innovations. The better car manufacturers succeed not only in satisfying the minimum expectations, but also in fulfilling the latent desires of customers, the more successful they will be.”
The study at hand is the first in a joint project between the international data & analytics group YouGov and the Center of Automotive Management (CAM), which combines CAM’s electromobility findings with YouGov’s survey and consumer expertise. The aim of the study series is, on the one hand, to take stock of the current market and sales developments in electromobility and to illuminate them from the consumer perspective. In addition, the technology trends and innovation achievements of the car manufacturers in the field of electromobility are analysed and compared with the perceptions of the consumers.