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Toyota tops automakers in 2014’s Best Global Brands list

Toyota is the most valuable automotive brand on this year’s Interbrand’s Best Global Brands ranking—moving from number ten to number eight. Although Toyota was fined US$1.2 billion by the U.S. Justice Department in March 2014 and recalled nearly 6.4 million vehicles worldwide just a few weeks later, the Japanese automaker met the crisis head on and kept the reputation of its 77-year-old brand intact. This year’s increase in sales demonstrates growth not only in the US, but also in markets like China and Europe.

This is the 15th annual ranking of the 100 most valuable global brands. The value of each brand is converted into a dollar value to produce the table. The Best Global Brands study is Interbrand’s annual report on the world’s most valuable brands. Interbrand’s method looks at the ongoing investment and management of the brand as a business asset, taking into account financial performance, the role of brand in the purchase decision process, and the strength of the brand.

Strength of the brand

Mercedes-Benz, Germany’s automotive pioneer, has revitalized itself with new models and fresh expressions of its brand, resulting in a record 14 percent increase in sales. Sales rose 9.5 percent in the US (Mercedes-Benz’s largest market), demand has been revived in Europe, and the brand is closing in on competitors in China. In India too, the brand is on a roll. Continuing to provide the comfort, performance, and safety consumers have come to expect from the brand, while also offering dramatic styling and innovative new features, it’s no wonder Mercedes-Benz’s models still captivate.

Interbrand says “the timeless appeal of the Mercedes brand, currently summed up by its tagline ‘The best or nothing’, is seductive the world over and appeals to drivers of all ages. But the brand also owes much of its recent success to continual innovation and its commitment to debuting new products and services. (Mercedes-Benz plans to roll out 30 new models by 2020.) In addition to updating product design, Mercedes has made positive contributions to clean mobility with emissions-reducing technology (BlueTEC) and an intelligent energy management system for hybrid vehicles (Intelligent Hybrid).

Strengthening its position as a best-in-class global automotive brand, BMW (No. 11) has been able to build upon its premium status, while driving sustainable mobility forward. The brand’s EfficientDynamics initiative, for example, continues to offer customers outstanding fuel economy and low emissions across the BMW range. Looking toward the future, the brand has increased its relevance with new models like the i3, an emission-free car for city driving, and the i8, an impressive and progressive sports car.  Accompanied by the ‘Born Electric’campaign, the i series brings BMW’s mobility ideals to life, proving that the brand is indeed ‘Fueled by Innovation’.

Honda has been ranked 20th. Although its ranking in 20th place remained the same from last year, according to Interbrand the dollar value of the Honda brand increased by 17 percent  to US$21,673 billion dollars (Rs 132,963 crore). Interbrand’s primary analysis for this increase in value included the fact that Honda is returning to FIA Formula 1 as an engine supplier for McLaren, after a break of more than 20 years. The car and motorcycle manufacturer hopes this will ignite the kind of brand awareness it enjoyed during the golden age of ‘Powered by Honda’.

Volkswagen comes at No. 31. It is hard to find a global car brand that is as clear and consistent in its design and brand story. VW has made German engineering and reliable technology its hallmark. Its latest models, particularly the seventh-generation Golf and the up!, remain true to the brand but benefit from minor changes that give them an edge.

Remaining relevant and responsive, Volkswagen has persistently strengthened its ‘Think Blue’ sustainability initiative. It recently won Germany’s National Energy Globe Award for the initiative and for its commitment to making its global car plants more sustainable by 2018.

Ford Motor Co is at No 39. With record sales in key markets and its biggest-ever new product line-up, Ford is on a roll. As a result of growth in the North American and Asia-Pacific markets, Ford increased global sales by 12 percent. The Focus is the best-selling car in the world and the F-Series has been the best-selling pickup truck in the U.S. for 37 consecutive years. In China, the brand experienced an almost 50 percent increase in sales last year and, by making the new Mustang globally available, Ford is making up for lost ground in Europe. The company is also refreshing 2,000 dealerships in key European markets. And in India, it is all set to open an all-new plant in Sanand and is fast revving up production for its best-selling SUV, the EcoSport.

Hyundai drives in at No. 40. Delivering on the brand direction ‘modern premium’, the Korean carmaker is riding on its brand slogan, “New Thinking, New Possibilities.” Hyundai is one of the fastest growing automotive brands, in terms of both volume and brand value. At the heart of Hyundai’s growth is its strategy to differentiate and increase relevance by creating customized products.

Audi ,at No 45, has been clear and consistent for over two decades about what its brand stands for: sportiness, progressiveness, and sophistication, united through the lens of technology. Audi’s position is apparent in the market and has resulted in robust sales. With more than 1.57 million delivered vehicles in 2013, the brand outperformed its previous record-setting sales year by 8.3 percent. In Europe and China, Audi led the premium automotive segment again as the top-seller in 2013.

Meanwhile, Nissanhas been ranked No. 56, up from 65 in 2013. The study cited the strength of Nissan’s financial performance, product portfolio and leadership position in electric vehicles among the drivers of the company’s brand health. The value of the Nissan brand was estimated at $7,623 billion (Rs 44,558 crore), an increase from last year’s estimated value of nearly $6.2 billion.

In June Nissan was named one of the world’s greenest brands for 2014 in Interbrand’s Best Global Green Brands report. Nissan moved up one spot to fourth overall powered by the Nissan Leaf, the world’s best-selling 100 percent electric vehicle and making the company the global leader in Zero Emissions mobility.




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