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by David Zalstein

Achtung! For those who have wondered why German brands Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche continue to reign supreme in automotive circles, Fortune has compiled a list of the top 10 unique advantages the black, red and yellow have over their rivals.

1. Historical roots: With the first internal combustion engine being developed by Karl Benz in the 1870s and it being fitted to a coach in 1887 and BMW beginning its car-making legacy in 1928 – the Germans revere their cars and always have, and customers respect that.

2. The value of racing: Fortune says no country has a racing heritage like Germany. Not even Italy. From the ‘silver arrow’ Auto Union and Mercedes cars of the 1930s to iconic drivers like Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and Michael Schumacher the Germans have it covered. They even lay claim to the most famous, and equally feared, circuit in the world, ‘The Green Hell’ – the Nurburgring. To have brands associated with a background like this is invaluable.

Michael Schumacher - in car

3. The autobahns: Almost 13,000km of speed-limit-free autobahns and cars designed and manufactured to take advantage of the fact is repeated nowhere else in the world. The Germans know how to do speed.

4. Brand strength: Clarity, commitment, authenticity, and relevance sets the Germans apart from the competition. Everybody knows and understands what Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are all about and the fact that all four marques rank among the world’s top global brands (the most from any single country) shows it.

5. Engineering and technology: Germany is a country that holds engineering and technology in high regard and professionals in those fields in much esteem so its no surprise to see the letters ‘D’ and ‘r’ attached to the CEOs of German manufacturers. This level of focus and dedication to core principles resonates with buyers.

Audi R8 GT

6. Picking markets: People in countries with developing economies want to buy German cars and German brands continue to make cars that those people want. Fortune says May 2012 saw Audi sales rise 44.2 per cent in China as BMW rose 31.5 per cent.

7. Arrogance with purpose: With tag lines like “The best or nothing”, “The ultimate driving machine” and “There is no substitute”, the Germans have always been the first to spruik their credentials but Fortune believes this is valid, quoting a Zurich newspaper that once said cars are as central to Germany as secret bank accounts are to Switzerland. The Germans may seem arrogant to a degree but when they keep delivering on it, who can argue?

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3

8. The status of price: German brands are in the realm of costing a certain premium amount with the intended purpose of having to spend that amount to own one. From extensive, and expensive, options lists to increasingly pricey model variants, Fortune suggests buyers of German cars love to complain about the costs of their purchases so those who can’t afford such luxuries understand just how deep their pockets are.

9. Bathing in exclusivity: German brands are renowned for limited editions, special editions, commemorative editions and low volume rarities. From Mercedes’ Black series and Porsche GT2 RS to the BMW CSL and M3 GTS, German brands are experts at fashionably restricted.

Porsche 911 GT2 RS

10. Being the benchmark: Who can really go up against these German powerhouses and finish in anything other than second place? Quality, dynamics, performance, heritage, aura, Fortune believes no other brands can match the elite on all fronts consistently. And that’s why Fortune thinks German cars rule the road.

What do you think? Is Fortune right or has it missed the mark?




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