Toyota No. 1 in R&D investment in 2008

BRUSSELS (Kyodo) Toyota Motor Corp. was the world’s biggest single investor in research and development in 2008, according to an annual report by the European Union.

Toyota, up from fourth in 2007, spent 7.610 billion euro, the report by the EU’s executive body, the European Commission, says.

Toyota was followed by Microsoft Corp. of the U.S. and Volkswagen AG of Germany.

Among the top 50 were 13 Japanese companies, including Honda Motor Co. at 11th, Panasonic Corp. at 14th, Sony Corp. at 16th, and Nissan Motor Co. at 22nd.

Despite the global recession, companies spent 6.9 percent more on research and development worldwide in 2008 than the year before, the report says.

By region, the largest percentage spending increase — 8.1 percent — was recorded by companies in the EU area. U.S. companies spent 5.7 percent more and Japanese companies 4.4 percent more, the report says.