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Toyota named most-valuable auto brand

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 (Toyota)

Brand value is highly subjective, but it's serious business for carmakers. If a person will pay more for one brand over another brand, it serves as a major advantage for the company. This is especially true in the car industry, where a buyer's perception of a given brand is often a deciding factor in whether or not they make a purchase. One of the best indicators of this value is the annual BrandZ Top 100 global survey conducted by influential market-research firm Millward Brown.

Toyota once again topped the list of most-valuable automotive brands, with an estimated value of $29.5 billion, an increase of 21 percent on last year's result. The runner up was also the same as last year: BMW came in behind Toyota with an estimated brand value of $25.7 billion, a 7 percent gain.

The Japanese carmaker's continued success was attributed to strong 2013 sales, and a general consumer preference for mid-range cars. The overall number of automotive brands on the BrandZ Top 100 list grew from four in 2013 to six in 2014, with Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Ford, and Nissan joining Toyota and BMW.

Meanwhile, Google took the overall top spot from Apple, which has held it since 2011. The tech giant and proponent of self-driving cars has an estimated brand value of $158.8 billion.

The study determines brand value by calculating the sum of all earnings that a company's brand is expected to generate on its own. Surveyed consumers were asked to judge a brand based on attributes that are important to them.

World's most valuable car brands in 2014 in $ billion; rank in top global 100; % value change from 2013

1) Toyota $29.5 -- (26) +21

2) BMW $25.7 -- (32) +7

3) Mercedes-Benz $21.5 -- (42) +1

4) Honda $14.0 -- (70) +1

5) Ford $11.8 -- (84) (New)

6) Nissan $11.1 -- (90) -4

7) Volkswagen $8.4 -- (*)

8) Audi $7.0 -- (*)

9) Chevrolet $4.9 -- (*)

10) Hyundai $4.6 -- (*)

(number) = overall top 100 position
(*) = Did not rank in the top 100