Europe's big OEM's are investing more heavily in R&D as they work to make vehicles more efficient. As the economy improves so too has investment into new technologies.
Company figures show that the average R&D investment has risen by more than 8% over 2009. Volkswagen and Daimler were the biggest spenders, but unlike previous years, investment was up at all the major OEM's.
In the first half of the year VW spent nearly €3.5 billion on R&D, up nearly 20% on last year. The firm also intends to invest further: "We'll extend our competitive position by expanding our range of environmentally friendly vehicle models", said Martin Winterkorn, VW's chairman of the board of management.
Daimler's investment increased to more than €2.3 billion in the first six months of this year, a 4% increase on January to June 2009. "Our strategy is paying off: We have a very dynamic development in all divisions", said Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche.
Vehicle sales are continuing to rebound after a turbulent two years. Daimler expects automotive markets to recover even further, pushed by it's E-Class and the introduction of new generations of the R-Class and CL-Class. The OEM's large R&D fund is also helping to roll out more efficient six- and eight-cylinder gasolene engines.
Renault, BMW, Fiat and PSA Peugeot Citroen have all increased R&D investment by 4-6%. In the first half of this year Renault increased its R&D spending by 4.06% to €973 million, as it devotes a large proportion of its resources to developing electric powertrains. PSA and BMW are also increasing funding, BMW for its 'i' project and PSA in hybridising the powertrain.
Fiat is investing in much smaller gasolene combustion engines to improve vehicle efficiency, such as 2-cylinder variants.