Look, there’s no doubt that environmentalism is a philosophy that we as a species need to adopt for our own survival. We can’t keep pumping out untold tons of noxious gasses into the atmosphere and expect the Earth to just take it on the chin like a good ol’ sport. It’s not feasible, as we began to realize midway through the last century. Consequently now most industrialized societies are doing their part to combat climate change by instituting widespread recycling and compost programs, tax credits towards reducing carbon footprints, and slowly but surely shifting the culture towards one that valorizes green living and demonizes excessive pollution and general environmental carelessness.
With that being said, even the greenest of ecowarriors gets squirmy when you talk of about taking away the automobile. For people living deep in urban centers, car ownership isn’t necessary and it’s therefore viewed as a luxury. For the rest of the population who live in suburban or rural environments, their car is the key to their entire life. Without it, they simply wouldn’t be able to accomplish most of the things they do in their day-to-day life. We’ve designed our cities and infrastructure around the car, and like it or not we’re inexorably tied into it for the foreseeable future.
That isn’t all bad though. Electric cars are on the horizon, and if we can change our infrastructure to support their widespread adoption we should be good. The hype behind the electric car isn’t just because of the technology though; the companies that spearhead that initiative have a chance of being first movers in an entirely revamped auto industry. The rise of the electric car is driven – like most things – by profit. Tesla sees itself as the world’s leading car brand in a future where consumers abandon combustion cars altogether. It’s an ambitious strategy, and if they want to reshape that industry they’re in for a lot of competition. There are massive amounts of money in the car industry, and these 10 brands are the richest of the rich,the organizations that hold the most valuable brands in the eyes of consumers and experts.
#10 Renault – $9.01 Billion
French auto manufacturer Renault has been around since 1899, and is one of the most well known French multinationals across the world. They primarily produce cars for the European market, but have expanded into others across the world such as the Middle East and Asia. They have a joint alliance with Nissan set up and own 43.4% of the Japanese manufacturer, who in turn own 15% of Renault. In 2013 the corporation sold around 2.6 million vehicles to customers around the world. The company’s brand is valued at $9.01 billion.
#9 Porsche – $11.37 Billion
German auto manufacturer Porsche needs no introduction for fans of high-end sports cars. Founded in 1931, Porsche made a name for itself across the world in the 1960s after getting involved in motor racing and building the value of the brand. The company is based in Stuttgart, Germany, the same city it was founded in 80 years ago. They’re well known for their 911, Boxster, Spyder, Panamera, and Cayenne consumer models, and are also the most successful car brand in the history of motorsport with a recorded 28,000 victories. The brand is valued at $11.37 billion as of 2014.
#8 Hyundai – $18.83 Billion
Hyundai is one of few companies that drive the entire South Korean economy. Hyundai, along with Samsung, have practically single handedly created South Korea’s international presence. Originally founded as an engineering firm in 1947, the company switched focus to auto manufacturing 20 years later in 1967. The headquarters are in Seoul, as they were when the company was founded, and Hyundai is currently the 4th largest vehicle manufacturer in the world. They own 32.8% of Kia motors, and last year produced 4,721,156 automobiles for the global market. The brand itself is valued at $18.83 billion.
#7 Ford – $20.24 Billion
Ford Motors is the most famous of the American auto manufacturers, as it was the driving force (see what I did there?) of the industry in the United States in the early stages of the 20th century. Henry Ford practically pioneered the automobile production process through his specialized assembly line process that focused on the division of labor to achieve maximum efficiency. Today the company is the 5th largest auto manufacturer in the world and has a very strong brand value of $20.24 billion. The company is based in Dearborn, Michigan, and has operations all over the world (although the North American market remains its primary focus).
#6 Nissan – $21.19 Billion
Japanese auto manufacturer Nissan comes in at #6 on our list with a brand value of $21.19 billion. As previously mentioned, Nissan and Renault have a strategic alliance involving cross-ownership, with Renault owning more of Nissan than the other way around. Interestingly, the Nissan brand has a much higher valuation than Renault, most likely because it has a stronger international presence. Nissan is the 6th largest auto manufacturer in the world, and is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan.
#5 Honda – $22.15 Billion
Honda is yet another example of Japanese supremacy in the global auto market. With a headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, Honda is the 7th largest auto manufacturer in the world in terms of production, but is 5th in terms of brand value, with a valuation of $22.15 billion. Honda has diversified into several other categories beyond cars, including engines, robots, aircraft, solar cells, motorcycles, and ATVs. It also owns the Acura line of high-end luxury cars, which it uses to compete with Toyota’s Lexus and European high-end brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
#4 Mercedes-Benz – $24.17 Billion
As if on cue, Mercedes-Benz enters our list at #4 with a brand valuation of $24.17 billion – which will probably come at no surprise to most people. Luxury brands generally have much higher profit margins than cars that are marketed for consumption by the masses. German manufacturer Daimler AG owns the Mercedes-Benz brand which is the 13th biggest car manufacturer in the world. Daimler AG has its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, and the Mercedes-Benz brand is the crown jewel of its empire.
#3 Volkswagen – $27.06 Billion
Volkswagen is one of the most recognizeable car brands across the world, with a massive presence all over Europe and North America, in addition to the Asian market. With a production output of 8,576,964, Volkswagen is the 3rd biggest manufacturer by volume in the entire world. The familiar Volkswagen brand alone is valued at $27.06 billion. They’re known primarily for their signature Jetta, Golf, and Passat consumer models, but also own a controlling stake in the Audi brand. The company is headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany, and has been in operation since its founding in 1937.
#2 BMW – $28.96 Billion
BMW is the most valuable German automobile brand in the world, with an overall valuation of $28.96 billion. The company is headquartered in Munich, Germany, and was founded in 1916. It owns the Rolls-Royce brand, produces motorcycles, and also has a large presence in motorsport including Formula One. BMW is the 14th biggest auto manufacturer in the world by volume, with 2,065,216 cards produced last year. The BMW brand is synonymous with luxury and high-end automobiles virtually all over the world, a factor that has helped the German manufacturer become one of the most recognized and desired car brands on earth.
#1 Toyota – $34.9 Billion
Toyota is the clear global leader in auto manufacturing. Through its own Toyota brand, the Lexus brand, and the Scion brand, the Japanese company has entered into business across all demographics of the automobile market. It also produces commercial vehicles under the Hino brand, and will soon be producing electric cars under its new Ranz brand. With a brand valuation of $34.9 billion, Toyota is the most valuable car brand in the world. It’s also first in terms of production volume, having produced 8,381,968 cars in 2013, almost 2 million more than runner-up G.M. Over the last few decades Toyota has solidified its dominance on the global auto market from its headquarters in Toyota City, where the company gets its name, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.