Volkswagen emblem

Time. Patience. Grit. Determination. It will take all of these and more if Volkswagen is to succeed in its quest to become the world's largest and most profitable automaker. But there's one more thing it's going to require: money. Lots and lots of spending money.

Seamus McElroy from Autoline Detroit spent some time investigating the research and development expenditures of the world's largest car companies, and there were a few surprises. As it stands, Volkswagen is the third largest automaker, yet it spent more than the two companies ahead of it, Toyota and General Motors.

Also of note: at 5.5 percent, BMW and Honda spend the largest amount of their total revenue on R&D, but VW is only behind by a small margin at 5.4 percent. Perhaps the biggest shocker is Toyota, which spends a measly 3.8 percent of its total revenue on research and development.

Down at the bottom of the list are Chrysler, Fiat, Hyundai and Kia, the last of which spent less than a billion dollars total in R&D. We'd expect that next year's spending budget for Chrysler and Fiat will move up several notches as the dual-headed automaker continues its massive product overhaul.

The Korean duo, however, seems to manage very well indeed with its relatively small R&D spending budget. As you're likely aware, Hyundai and Kia are grabbing worldwide market share by the bucketload and have introduced a number of highly competitive models over the last few years. We'd say their return on each R&D dollar spent is quite impressive.