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.

Meanwhile, the Japanese brand has trademarked the name Supra in Europe for use on an automobile. Back in 2014, Toyota also trademarked the name Supra in the United States, hinting that the brand is getting ready to use it again.

It is well known that Toyota and BMW are working together on a joint sports car project that will eventually bear the new BMW Z4/Z5 and a new Toyota sports car which will almost assuredly be called the Supra.

Toyota’s new sports machine will take its styling cues from the FT-1 Concept, while under the hood there might be a BMW engine providing power. Toyota is also rumored to be providing some type of hybrid technology, but the details on the car’s powertrain are still wrapped up tight.