Details | John Elway's Crown Toyota in Ontario, CA

Toyota has overtaken BMW as the most valuable automotive brand, an annual ranking of the world's top brands shows.

The value of the Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Hyundai brands improved by double-digit percentages compared with 2012, largely because of strong demand in China and the United States, according to the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study released by market research company Millward Brown today.

Toyota's 2013 brand value rose 12 percent to $24.5 billion largely because of its significant inroads in the hybrid market, according to the study.

"Toyota is carving out a very big position in hybrids across its range, which is tapping into the consumer need for value by saving fuel cost," Peter Walshe, Millward Brown global brand director, told Automotive News. "Its hybrids are reinforcing the experience of the brand, and in so doing, Toyota continues to magnify what is special and different about it."

Lack of launches

BMW's brand value dipped by 2 percent to $24 billion, according to the study, because of the German automaker's lack of new product launches compared with past years.

"The automotive brands that grew the most were the ones that launched the most models," Walshe said. "BMW remains a very powerful and distinctive brand."

BMW was the most valuable auto brand in the 2010 and 2012 rankings. Toyota held the top spot from 2006 until 2009 and again in 2011.

Among German premium brands, the value of the Mercedes-Benz brand increased 11 percent to $18 billion and Audi saw its brand value rise 18 percent to $5.5 billion largely because of strong demand in the United States and China for luxury cars, according to the study.

The rise in Chinese millionaires and a wealthier populace has continued to make China a key growth market for top global luxury brands such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

To maintain their spots in the annual ranking, the top 10 automotive brands need to keep aggressively pushing high-end features down into their mid- and entry-range models, Walshe said.

"Brands must continue to meet the expectations they raised in 2012 for improved quality and luxury features at all price points, helping them to attract younger customers and cultivate a future clientele," Walshe said.

Apple No. 1 overall

The 2013 Top 100 ranking is led by Apple, which has a brand value of $185.1 billion, up from $182.9 billion in 2012. It is the third consecutive year Apple finished No. 1. Google, with a brand value of $113.7 billion, took the No. 2 spot from IBM, which now ranks third and is valued at $112.5 billion.

Millward Brown measures brand equity based on interviews with more than 1 million consumers globally and an analysis of the financial and business performance of each company using data from Bloomberg and Datamonitor.

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