This is a pretty good question. They sure have excellent advertising (companies such as Mercedes and Volkswagen). In the past when not só many car brands were available they made some pretty good cars thatvwere reliable. They sure charged for it, especially Mercedes. Now when you think of countries such as Brazil and other south American countries where every penny makes a difference when purchasing a vehicle and where not as many brands are available the "concept" is still there and going very strongly (especially for Volkswagen, since Mercedes only makes luxury cars in south america, though Mercedes is ideal for trucks there).
Even though japanese cars which also have a fame to be long lasting, German cars are still well known for durability, good cost-benefit, and often times better price.
I had a Volkswagen myself andbwas happy with it.