Toyota's focus on emotionally appealing design has seen it remain solidly in top position as the world's most valuable automotive brand, according to a major global study. Citing Toyota's enduring brand strength, the 2016 BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report said the top-rated car manufacturer had embraced the importance of design. It said this added an emotional appeal to a brand respected for the functional excellence of its vehicles. The report, released by market researcher Millward Brown, estimated Toyota's brand value had increased by two per cent over the past year to US$29.5 billion (A$39.9 billion).

It is the eighth time Toyota has topped the automotive category in the report's 11-year history.Second and third places among carmakers were taken by luxury marques. The report said social trends such as urbanisation and a shift from ownership to sharing would see car manufacturers also become mobility service providers.

Anticipating these trends, Toyota has already contributed 70 ultra-compact electric vehicles, the Toyota i-ROAD and COMS, for an innovative car-sharing experiment in the French city of Grenoble. Last month, Toyota announced an agreement with Uber to explore ride-sharing opportunities and will make a strategic investment in the technology platform. Toyota has also provided initial funding of US$1 billion for a research institute that will develop artificial intelligence and robotics for enhancing human mobility.