Six Car Makers Make the List of Top 20 R&D Spenders

Consulting group says industry vulnerable to economic nationalism that it sees as threatening global innovation.

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Volkswagen poured $12.1 billion into research and development in 2017, a decline from $12.5 billion last year, but still propelling the German automaker into fifth place in a ranking of global companies by their R&D expenditures.

Amazon stood at the top of the heap with the online retailer's $16.1 into R&D, according to the Global Innovation 1000 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

Number 11, Toyota's R&D spending in 2017 came to $9.3 billion, dropping from $9.5 billion in 2016.

In the 13th slot, General Motors devoted $8.1 billion to R&D this year, up from $7.5 billion last year.

Next up among automakers, Ford held the 15th spot, with $7.3 billion in R&D spending, an increase from $6.7 billion in 2016.

Daimler's $6.9 billion (up from $6.3 billion in 2016) put it in the 16th slot, and Honda's $6.2 billion had it near the bottom, ranking 19. It spent $5.9 billion on R&D in 2016.

However, the study cautioned that "the flow of talent, investment and ideas that has boosted companies' global R&D efforts may soon be impeded by the rise of economic nationalism."

The study's Net Risk Index, which contrasts respondents' forecasts of how nations will withstand its "structural risk, found U.S. R&D to be the most vulnerable to political rhetoric, followed by the United Kingdom, China, Mexico and India.