EUR 54 billion spent on R&D by EU auto sector per year, latest ACEA data show

Annual EU investment into R&D by the automobile and parts sector has risen by 7.4% to reach an all-time high of EUR 53.8 billion (USD 63.4 billion), according to the latest data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

ACEA represents the 15 major Europe-based car, van, truck and bus manufacturers: BMW Group, DAF Trucks, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford of Europe, Honda Motor Europe, Hyundai Motor Europe, Iveco, Jaguar Land Rover, PSA Group, Renault Group, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen Group, Volvo Cars, and Volvo Group.

This, and many other facts about the industry were compiled by the ACEA in its ‘Automobile Industry Pocket Guide’, published on the occasion of the association’s Annual General Meeting last week.

This contribution makes the automobile and parts sector the EU’s number one investor in R&D – ahead of pharma and tech. It is responsible for 27% of the region’s total R&D spending.

Compared to other world regions, the EU auto sector by far leads the way in terms of R&D investment. Japan comes second in the global ranking with an investment of EUR 29.8 billion (USD 35.1 billion/0 per year, followed by the U.S. with EUR 18.5 billion (USD 21.8 billion). In fourth place comes China with EUR 5.4 billion (USD 6.3 billion), or just one tenth of the EU’s annual spending.

In addition, more than 8,700 automotive patents were granted by the European Patent Office last year.

“This level of investment into innovation shows how serious we are about further decarbonizing and digitalizing transport, thereby supporting the EU’s policy aims,” said ACEA Secretary General Erik Jonnaert.

Other key figures contained in the new Pocket Guide include:

  • 13.3 million people – or 6.1% of the EU employed population – work directly and indirectly in the sector.
  • The 3.4 million jobs in automotive manufacturing represent more than 11% of total EU manufacturing employment.
  • Motor vehicles account for some EUR 413 billion (USD 487 billion) in tax contributions in the EU15 alone – almost three times the total EU budget.
  • The automobile industry exported 5.9 million motor vehicles in 2017, generating a trade surplus of EUR 90.3 billion (USD 106.4 billion) for the EU.

The 2018-2019 edition of ACEA’s ‘Automobile Industry Pocket Guide’ can be found online here:

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