Revealed: The 10 car brands that will make others think you’re well off

  • ONS defines high earners as those with a salary in excess of £75k a year
  • Auto Trader looked at brands commonly owned by people in this salary bracket

What does the car you drive say about how well you’re doing?

There are particular brands that suggest the person behind the wheel is a high earner, according to a new report.

It has revealed the 10 vehicles makes that are owned by those who earn in excess of £75,000 a year.

Which brand is most commonly owned by high earners? We’ll give you a clue – it’s a premium German marque

Cars have long been used as a statement of wealth and success.

Auto Trader, the UK’s biggest car market place, has undertaken a study to understand if premium motor brands are still the status symbol they used to be, or whether other types of cars – such as electric vehicles (EVs) – are becoming the next badge of prestige.

To discover what cars high earners drive, it surveyed nearly 1,300 UK drivers aged 18 and above and cross-referenced their results with their salary.

Car brands most commonly driven by people earning over £75k a year 

1. BMW – 16%

2. Audi – 15%

3. Ford – 14%

4. Mercedes – 12%

=5. Toyota – 8%

=5. Volvo – 8%

=7. Nissan – 7%

=7, Vauxhall – 7%

=7. Volkswagen – 7%

10. Land Rover – 6%

Source: AutoTrader 

With the Office for National Statistics defining high earners as those bringing home in excess of £75,000, the brand most commonly driven by respondents in the salary bracket is BMW.

Around one in six (16 per cent) of high earners said they drive a car built by the premium German maker.

Second in the list was neighbouring car firm Audi with 15 per cent of drivers earning £75,000 owning a model with the four-ring logo in the bonnet.

In third spot was Ford (14 per cent), ahead of Mercedes-Benz (12 per cent), Toyota (8 per cent) and Volvo (8 per cent).

While the results show a number of brands that are typically associated with wealth, including Land Rover in tenth spot with 6 per cent share of high-earner drivers, the rest of the top ten rankings include more affordable brands such as Nissan and Vauxhall.

‘The responses from the UK’s high earners show that the car people drive doesn’t always give a clear indicator of their income,’ Auto Trader concluded.

Audi was second in the list of car brands most commonly owned by drivers earning in excess of £75,000 a year

Audi was second in the list of car brands most commonly owned by drivers earning in excess of £75,000 a year

More £75k-plus earners drive Fords than Mercedes-Benz models, according to a study conducted by Auto Trader

More £75k-plus earners drive Fords than Mercedes-Benz models, according to a study conducted by Auto Trader

High earners more likely to go electric 

But the study did find that the UK’s high earners are more likely to drive an electric or hybrid vehicle.

Given the premium price tag associated with EVs, it comes as little surprise that it’s top earners who are more likely to drive one.

Studies have also found that more than four in five of the nation’s existing EV drivers charge their cars at home, suggesting the majority have driveways, garages or some form of off-street parking. 

Auto Trader’s study found that a quarter (25 per cent) of people in the UK’s highest household income bracket own a motor either fully or partly powered by a battery. 

Unsurprisingly, the next most likely income bracket group to drive electric are those with a household income between £55,000 to £65,000.

As part of the study, researchers also looked specifically at the electric cars high earners drive the most, with Tesla coming out on top. 

Arguably, this is a sign that driving an electric car is fast becoming a symbol of wealth and success, as the Musk-owned brand is widely regarded as a high-end and premium manufacturer.

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