September 28th, 2011 at 11:00am
We take a look at which car company spends the most amount of money on research and development. Plus, a power-to-weight comparison with V-6 ponycars.
This is Autoline Daily, but not the normal show you’re used to seeing. For the rest of this week we’re going to be showing you some of the best of Autoline Daily because we’re moving our studios to a brand-new building. So excuse our dust and please enjoy a couple of our favorite features. First up, let’s take a look at some important automotive numbers, then it’s time for a ponycar showdown. Enjoy!
Car companies can’t come out with new products unless they spend the money to develop them. So we dug through piles of annual reports to find out which automaker invests the most money in R&D, which is where the car companies book their expense for new product development. We also looked at which companies spend the most on R&D as a percent of total revenue. So let’s take a look, shall we? Seamus McElroy filed this report.
It’s no surprise to see that the top three R&D spenders are also the three largest automakers in the world, Volkswagen, Toyota and General Motors. VW spent over $9.2 billion last year which is close to a billion more than Toyota, which spent a billion and a half more than GM. Looking at the rest of the list, there isn’t much variation between where a company ranked in R&D spending and how much revenue it brought in for the year.
But if you look at R&D as a percentage of revenue, only VW remains in the top three. BMW and Honda jump to the top of the list, each spending 5.5 percent of revenues on R&D, with VW just a tenth back from both. Perhaps the biggest shock is how far Toyota falls, nearly out of the top ten. It spends just 3.8 percent of revenues on R&D. Ford also takes a tumble, barely staying ahead of Toyota. Of course, Toyota is about to launch a product offensive, so these numbers could climb.
With all the success Hyundai and Kia have had recently, it’s surprising to see both companies at the bottom of the list in both categories. Does this mean Hyundai-Kia could lose its momentum over the next several years with so little spent on research? Or does it mean they simply get more bang for their buck? We suspect it’s the latter.
Fiat and Chrysler are also at the bottom of the lists. Maybe Chrysler was holding back on spending while it was still partly owned by the U.S. and Canadian governments. If you combine R&D spending for the two, they’re still middle of the pack. And as a percent of revenue, they’re still at the bottom.
POWER-TO-WEIGHT: V-6 PONYCARS
As promised, we’re doing more direct power-to-weight comparisons, and the next segment we’ve honed in on is ponycars . . . more specifically, entry-level, V-6-powered ponycars. We’ll get to the eights later.
We’ve collected vital statistics on the important cars in this segment and optioned them as closely possible. These are the cheapest SIX-CYLINDER versions available from their respective manufacturers. No options or extras included.
On the docket we have the Chevrolet Camaro LS, Dodge Challenger SE, Ford Mustang and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec. All of them are equipped with manual transmissions EXCEPT the Challenger. It’s auto-only with the V-6 engine. Also worth noting, the Genesis comes standard with a turbo four-banger. Getting into a six-cylinder model is a $4,500 price premium. It’s a rare day when a Hyundai isn’t the best value in a comparison test!
Front and center each car delivers more than 300 horsepower and in this department the 2011 Camaro is No. 1 by a narrow margin, with 312. As for torque, the Mustang takes top honors narrowly edging out the Chevy with 280 pound-feet. None of the cars have a big advantage in output; the real deciding factor in this comparison is weight.
Straining the scales at more than 3,800 pounds the Challenger is the biggest, roomiest and consequently heaviest car here. The Camaro is not far behind. Mustang and Genesis are featherweights by comparison, clocking in at hundreds of pounds less than the Dodge and Chevy. Let’s see what that means to the power-to-weight ratios . . . surprisingly, they’re all pretty close. The Genesis Coupe has the best score with the Mustang right on its heels. Predictably, the Challenger is the worst off, but again, not by a lot.
The story is much the same when it comes to pounds-per-pound-foot of torque. Look at those numbers. Even with six-cylinder engines these cars are performance machines!
As for fuel economy, the Mustang takes the gold, stickering at 19 around town and 29 on the highway. Amazingly, the Genesis delivers the worst numbers despite being the lightest car in this comparison. And this just shows you how fast things change in automotive business.
Well put, John! I couldn’t have said it better myself . . . Thanks for sticking around. Make sure you check back tomorrow for even more great content on Autoline Daily. We’ll see you then!