The results of the annual ranking of the world's top brands by market research company Millward Brown show a 10 per cent rise in BMW's brand equity was enough to knock the Japanese manufacturer down to second position.
Millward Brown says the Toyota and Honda brands suffered the most from supply disruptions due to the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan and flooding in Thailand but that Toyota regained some of the trust lost during the uncontrolled acceleration problems of two years ago that was eventually attributed to driver error.
Millward Brown measures brand equity based on interviews with more than one million consumers globally and an analysis of the financial and business performance of each company using data from Bloomberg and Datamonitor.
Other brands to make an impression were Hyundai in ninth, entering the BrandZ ranking for the first time, and Volkswagen at sixth, whose continued ability to deliver a premium image at a competitive price saw a 15 per cent increase.
Apple led the 2012 Top 100 list with a brand value of $182.9 billion ahead of IBM at $116.0 billion and Google with $107.9 billion.
Millward Brown notes, "The car industry faces future demographic challenges. Increased urbanisation may reduce dependence on cars as people turn to public transportation or car sharing arrangements to reduce traffic and pollution. Also, among the socially networked youth, cars become less necessary for staying in touch with friends. For them, cars do not define personal status as they did for their parents."