Tesla's strong showing in the poll may reflect its new approach to mobility (Photo: Tesla)

Automotive companies aren't as innovative as they used to be, according to a survey of 1,500 senior executives who were asked about the state of innovation in global business by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The survey ranks the 50 most innovative companies in the world in the eyes of these executives. The list is led by technology groups, with Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft and IBM in spots 1 to 5, respectively. They are followed by Amazon, Tesla Motors, Toyota, Facebook and Sony in positions 6 to 10.

Tesla is the most innovative carmaker, jumping 34 places from a year earlier, followed by Toyota in 8th position. BMW stood at 18, Ford Motor at 19 and Volkswagen at 21.  They were followed by Daimler at 25, Audi at 28 and Fiat at 32.

BCG noted that the decline in the number of car companies in the Top 50 - and in the top 20 in particular - was the biggest change in the 2014 list compared with 2013. There were only nine carmakers among the top 50 this year, down sharply from 14 in 2013.

Top 10 carmakers went from 3 to 2 and the number of automakers included among the 20 most innovative companies plunged to 4 from 9.

BCG said automakers reported a 26 pc decline in innovation priority, which measures how important companies consider innovation to be. Only 62 percent of carmakers assigned innovation a top-three priority, down from 84 pc last year.

BCG said Tesla's strong performance in the ranking could reflect the relative newness of its mobility approach. "Perhaps Tesla's more disruptive, breakthrough entrance has raised the innovation bar for automakers and thus changed respondents' perceptions of what constitutes innovation in the automotive space," the report said.

Fiat jumped 11 places in the rankings, which, according to BCG, is because it may be "benefiting from its reemergence as a global brand and its bold acquisition of Chrysler."