Global consultancy EY said Wednesday that effectively managing that cash was a key concern among 100 top industry executives it had surveyed.
EY analyst Anil Valsan said companies are stockpiling cash so they don't have to count on banks, which have been reluctant to offer loans.
The cash pile has grown steadily despite the crisis and partly in reaction to it, the survey found. EY didn't have comparative figures from previous years.
Besides new car development, automakers are looking for strategic partners to enter new markets in northern Africa, the Middle East and southeast Asia.