Toyota No. 1; VW makes biggest gain in ranking of most valuable car brands

Toyota kept its title as the world's most valuable car brand in a year in which only three automakers finished in the top 100 global brand list, down from five in 2018 and six in 2017.

After Toyota, only Mercedes-Benz and BMW were ranked in the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2019 study by market researcher Kantar Millward Brown. Ford and Honda dropped out after making the top 100 in 2018.

Toyota has been No. 1 in 12 of the 14 years the study has been carried out. In the years it wasn’t No. 1, 2010 and 2012, it finished in second place.

“Global reach is such a big part of Toyota’s position. In each area it’s got a good representative model mix,” Graham Staplehurst, Global BrandZ Strategy Director, told Automotive News Europe. “Toyota is also seen as pioneer for alternative energy. People are aware of the Prius. We have done a couple of surveys on electric cars, and although Tesla came out on top, Toyota came in second and then VW.”

Volkswagen was the only brand in the automotive top 10 list to improve its valuation compared with last year, rising 12% on the year before.

VW is benefiting from a bounce-back after its diesel scandal and is "better poised to take advantage of the move to alternative energy, Staplehurst said.

Porsche was the only new entrant to the top 10 after ousting India’s Maruti-Suzuki to take the 10th spot.

Staplehurst praised Porsche’s strategy, particularly around electrification. “It’s a really exciting new entry. The Porsche brand has been doing a lot of things right,” he said. Porsche is about to launch its first full-electric car, the Taycan sedan.

Car companies overall lost brand value over the past year because their business model resonates less with consumers compared with digital companies such as Amazon (No. 1 in this year’s top 100 list), Apple and Google.

“Consumers are more interested in brands that give them experiences rather than brands that make things. Ecosystem brands are tending to win,” Staplehurst said.

Offering mobility servicing or partnering with technology companies could offer brands a way to establish an ecosystem model and improve their brand equity standing, he said.

Brandz calculates brand value starting with the brand’s market capitalization and arriving at a figure using elements such as profitability and shareholder enthusiasm, as well as the results of a global public survey into consumer attitudes toward businesses.

One aspect of the survey is how much consumers “love” the brand, an area in which car firms do particularly badly. “I think there’s an element of people not really loving cars anymore,” Staplehurst said.

The degree of love for car brands differs from region to region. “South Americans seem to love their car brands most, especially Toyota and Chevrolet,” Staplehurst said.

The most loved car brand is Maruti-Suzuki in India, with an index of 124 (where 100 is the average of all brands measured in India). Toyota gets the most top scores on the “love” index (in seven countries, including the U.S.) followed by Audi (six countries, all in Europe).

To see the full report, click here.