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Some 44% of American adults with annual income of at least $150k (affluents) say that their opinion of automobile makers in the US is more positive than it was last year, according to results from YouGov’s Affluent Perspective 2017 Global Study. That marks an improvement from last year’s study, when 38% said they had gained a greater appreciate for US automakers.

Along with an improved perception of US automakers, affluents also placed the US a spot higher on their list of top-producing countries this year.

In this latest edition of the study, Germany is the big winner, though. With 35% of US affluents indicating that they believe it produces the best vehicles, Germany moved up from 3rd place last year, when considerably fewer (28%) saw it in that light. (This may change after a new scandal has emerged alleging collusion among Germany’s top auto producers.)

The US is close behind, with almost one-third (32%) naming it the best for auto production. The US’ move to 2nd was primarily due to Japan’s drop in perception. Last year’s leader (with 33% counting it as their top country), Japan this year was cited by only 28%.

No Car, No Problem For Millennial Affluents?

Millennial (ages 18-38) affluents present somewhat of a dichotomy for the auto industry, per the survey’s results. While more than 4 in 10 plan to buy a primary vehicle in the coming year – a rate greater than the one-quarter for affluents overall – many also can envision a life without a car.

In fact, almost half (46%) of affluent Millennials agree that they can see themselves not owning a car in the future, being almost twice as likely as affluents in general (26%) to feel that way.

An equal proportion (46%) of these younger affluents agree that they would be willing to share ownership of a vehicle with a group of friends, a concept not widely shared by affluents overall (17%).

These opinions probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise: Millennials over-index in ride-hailing usage and affluent Millennials are particularly likely to see a sharing-based economy ahead.

Still, considering their size and clout (overtaking Gen Xers in new vehicle purchases back in 2014), the automotive industry will be closely watching to see if Millennials’ attitudes come to fruition.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of YouGov’s panel of 2,500 US consumers earning at least $150k.

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