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Toyota retains title as most valuable car brand

Toyota retained its title as the world’s most valuable car brand in a new ranking, holding off BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Tesla, meanwhile, entered the top 10 for the first time, indicating the rising challenge traditional automakers face from industry disruptors.

Toyota’s brand value rose 2 percent to $29.5 billion, according to the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study released today by market researcher Millward Brown.

Toyota gained by continuing its emphasis on improving the customer’s experience and by consistently raising its value benchmark, Peter Walshe, Global BrandZ director at Millward Brown, told Automotive News Europe.

“From the customer’s experience, Toyota is a highly valued brand that continues to innovate,” Walshe said. “That is its strength and why it continues to generate such high volumes.”

Toyota has been No. 1 in nine of the 11 years the study has been carried out.

Telsa ousts Lexus

Tesla, which has a brand value of $4.4 billion, overtook Lexus for the No. 10 spot among automotive brands. It was helped by widening its portfolio with the introduction of its affordable $35,000 Tesla 3, Walshe said.

“Tesla is something completely different as a luxury brand, and as we know from our BrandZ results, that difference makes the difference,” Walshe said. “After reinventing the electric car and fighting against suspicion in the luxury market, its announcement of a mass-market model has only boosted consumers’ desire to try the brand. It has grown like an Apple and a Facebook, which is enormous.”

Porsche also entered the top 10 ranking this year, taking the No. 9 spot. “Porsche has gone back to what it stands for, by bringing out products to key niche groups,” Walshe said. “It is a bit like an Apple, since it has products that are desirable, but it equates that with its brand, representing additional desirability. This is something Porsche has always done in spades.”

Boosted by 7 series

Second-ranked BMW’s value increased 2 percent to $26.8 billion. The German automaker continued to receive a boost from its new 7-series flagship, i8 plug-in hybrid supercar and i3 EV, Walshe said.

“BMW has tremendous brand experience about it and the actual drivability of its models remains incredible and attractive,” Walshe said.

Mercedes’ value increased at the highest rate of any brand in the automotive top 10. The Stuttgart-based automaker boosted its brand value by 4 percent to $22.7 billion, which helped it keep hold on the the No. 3 spot.

“Mercedes has greatly benefited from the revamped E class and has done particularly well this year, especially in China,” Walshe said. “It has a series of models that appeal very well to a series of target consumers. The spread of its portfolio is paying off really, really well.”

The total value of the Top 10 car brands fell 3 percent to $139.9 billion, reflecting value drops for the Audi, Honda and Land Rover brands. Audi experienced the steepest decline of any auto brand in the top 10. Its value fell 6 percent, mainly because of the financial challenges faced by its parent, Volkswagen Group, Walshe said.

VW Group has had to set aside billions of euros to cope with the fallout from its admission that the company cheated emissions tests. The scandal also hit VW brand as its was bounced from the top 10 after finishing last year ranked No. 8.

Google passes Apple

When it comes to the ranking of all brands, Google regained the No. 1 spot from Apple. Google’s brand value rose 32 percent to $229.2 billion.

Apple slipped to No. 2 because as its brand value dropped 8 percent to 228.5 billion.

“Google was in an investment phase this time last year and those investments are paying off, particularly in the cloud by making major advances against Amazon and Microsoft,” Walshe said.

Apple has remained “massively differentiated” as a brand, but it did not hit a home run this year, accounting for why its brand value slipped, Walshe said. “Sure, Apple has done great things with its iPhone 6 launch and other products, but it did not come up with any major innovations recently from the perspective of customers.”

The BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands was developed by Millward Brown. The study combines measures of brand equity based on interviews with more than 2 million consumers globally using data from Bloomberg and Kantar Worldpanel.

High-value automotive brands
World’s most valuable car brands in billions; rank in top global 100; % value change from 2015
1. Toyota $29.5 (28) +2
2. BMW $26.8 (33) +2
3. Mercedes-Benz $22.7 (39) +4
4. Honda $13.2 (74) -1
5. Ford $13.1 (75) 0
6. Nissan $11.5 (92) +1
7. Audi $9.5 (*) -6
8. Land Rover $4.7 (*) -5
9. Porsche $4.4 (*) (**)
10. Tesla $4.4 (*) (**)
(*) Did not rank in the top 100 global brands
(**) Did not rank in the top 10 most valuable car brands in 2015
Source: Millward Brown
The BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands was developed by Millward Brown’s Optimor division. The study combines measures of brand equity based on interviews with more than 2 million consumers globally using data from Bloomberg and Kantar Worldpanel.
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