Ready for the road: 1 of a dozen Toyota Hilux’ that will hit to the road on a discovery trip to do a DNA coding of near 60 000 plants and species in South Africa. The car’s where pledged by Toyota at a media brief at the University of Johannesburg. Picture: Timothy Bernard 25.08.2010

Roy Cokayne

Toyota has consolidated its position as the most valuable automotive brand ahead of BMW and Volkswagen, according to the latest annual study conducted by brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance.

The study revealed that Toyota had increased the value of its brand by 34 percent in the past year and it was now worth $34.9 billion (R374.7bn).

BMW grew its brand value by 25 percent year on year to $28.9bn and Volkswagen by 14 percent to $27bn.

The next three places were occupied by Mercedes-Benz, which grew its brand value by 19 percent to $24bn, Honda (up 37 percent to $22bn) and Nissan (up 20 percent to R21bn).

Only four vehicle brands in the top 50 and six in the top 100 lost brand value.

The brand value of Kia in 14th position declined 1 percent to $5.3bn, 16th-ranked Fiat fell 10 percent to $5.1bn, 42nd-ranked Tata Motors slumped by a massive 36 percent to $2.3bn and 49th-ranked Mahindra slid 24 percent to $1.7bn.

The remaining two car brands in the top 100 whose brand value declined were Cadillac, which is part of US multinational General Motors, and Hero from India.

Although Toyota was ranked the most valuable vehicle brand, Brand Finance said the Japanese marque would have to negotiate the potential pothole of a 1.9 million unit recall of its Prius hybrid model and the resulting loss of consumer confidence.

However, Brand Finance said Toyota had faced similar challenges in recent years and despite its brand value taking a hit in the short term, it had also rebounded quickly. This suggested Toyota’s brand was powerful and resilient enough to see it through this issue.

David Haigh, the chief executive of Brand Finance, said the overall industry had performed strongly past year due to a combination of factors, including the global economic recovery and increased vehicle demand in the US and Asia.

Haigh said the brand value of the top 50 brands rose by $55bn to $346bn and the gross margins of the five biggest manufacturers were the highest they had been for 10 years. “The increasing market share of the biggest manufacturers coupled with a trend for joint ventures and alliances has resulted in vehicles that are mechanically more homogeneous.

“Consequently, brand will play an… important role in shaping consumer preference over the coming years, not just for the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche, but for mass market manufacturers too.”