10/20/2015 | 1 MINUTE READ

Study Ranks Audi, BMW, Daimler and GM as Leaders in Self-Drive

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Navigant Consulting Inc.'s new autonomous vehicle report ranks Daimler AG as the top carmaker in terms of strategy and execution for the emerging technology.

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Navigant Consulting Inc.'s new autonomous vehicle report ranks Daimler AG as the top carmaker in terms of strategy and execution for the emerging technology. Daimler is followed closely by Audi, BMW and General Motors as the three other market "leaders" in autonomous vehicle systems.

The Chicago-based research and marketing firm evaluated 18 carmakers. The analysis didn't include Google and other Silicon Valley tech firms, which are developing their own self-driving technologies.

Navigant judged companies in 12 areas: vision, go-to-market strategy, partnerships, production strategy, technology, geographic reach, sales and marketing, product capability, product quality and reliability, product portfolio, pricing and company commitment.

After the leaders, Navigant ranked 11 companies as "contenders." These included Volvo, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, Nissan, Tesla, Hyundai-Kia, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Mazda. The bottom three "challengers" listed in the report are Renault, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Mitsubishi.

The rankings were compiled earlier this year, thus don't take into account new programs recently announced by Toyota and Tesla. The Navigant study was led by senior research analyst David Alexander, who previously worked as a systems planning manager for Ford and has completed consulting projects for GM, Volvo and Magna.

Navigant notes that advanced driver-assistance systems such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control currently are transitioning from high-end luxury vehicles to mainstream models. The firm predicts that various self-driving features will be implemented in high volume cars by 2020 and that fully autonomous vehicles could be introduced by 2025.

Deployment will be depend on government regulations and consumer acceptance, the research firm says. Other challenges include reliability, security and liability issues.