You Won’t Believe the Cars Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Other Multibillionaires Drive
Although they are among the richest people on the planet, these entrepreneurs drive cars that cost a tiny fraction of their net worth
By Brett Berk
A car can be one of the largest purchases an individual will make in their lifetime. And because it’s a key part of expressing one’s public persona out in the world, it is often chosen to correspond with some key components of one’s personality or position, particularly, one’s level of success. The first big splurge a musician, sports player, executive, or actor makes when they initially encounter success is often a car.
But this is not the case for everyone. Although they have amassed billions of dollars, some of the world’s richest people prefer to drive vehicles that do not reflect their position or status. Perhaps this is a lesson for the rest of us to be a bit more frugal, to live below our means. Or perhaps it just adheres to the contemporary marketers’ concept of “stealth wealth,” in which the greatest expression of affluence is demonstrated by a lack of need to show off.
These seven billionaires all adhere to that rule, driving vehicles that while not exactly cheap, do not communicate their immense wealth.
Jack Ma, Alibaba’s cofounder and chairman, speaking during a launch event for the Roewe RX5, the same car the billionaire drives.
Photo: Getty Images/STR
Ma is the cofounder and executive chairman of The Alibaba Group, which is China’s leading technology and e-commerce firm. With a personal fortune estimated to be nearly $40 billion, he is also the country’s richest person. But you would never be able to tell from his personal vehicle, a $25,000 Roewe RX5 (pictured above), a moderately priced midsize SUV from large Chinese automaker SAIC that sports an Alibaba-based operating system.
A look at the 2019 Ford Fusion Hybrid, a car that’s very similar to the one driven by Steve Ballmer.
Photo: Courtesy of Ford/Kevin Pearce
Though said to be worth more than $40 billion, Ballmer has remained loyal to Ford vehicles from his hometown of Detroit, the company at which his father worked. In a collision of his interests, when Ballmer was CEO of Microsoft, Ford produced vehicles with a Microsoft-based infotainment system called SYNC. To celebrate production of the millionth SYNC-equipped vehicle, Alan Mullaly, then the CEO of Ford, delivered a $30,000 Ford Fusion hybrid to Ballmer. This became his daily driver.
The heiress to the Walmart fortune—the retailer founded by her father Sam Walton—Alice Walton is said to be the richest woman in the world, with a nearly $50 billion fortune. But she seems to have picked up on her father’s frugal nature. Sam was said to have kept the 1979 Ford F-150 pickup as his daily driver until his death in the early 1990s. Alice drives a 2006 Ford F-150 pickup, albeit the upscale King Ranch version, which cost around $40,000 new.
A look at the 2014 Acura TSX SE, a model that has been made for several years.
Photo: Courtesy of Acura
The Facebook founder and CEO is estimated to have a net worth of over $50 billion. But that doesn’t keep him from spending much of his time behind the wheel in a black $30,000 Acura TSX, a midsize, mid-priced sports sedan from Honda’s near-luxury brand. Zuckerberg is also reported to own and drive a Volkswagen Golf GTI, a sporty, fun-to-drive hatchback popular with young people and priced at around the same point as the Acura.
A 1990 240 Volvo Sedan, very similar to the model driven by Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA.
Photo: Courtesy of Volvo
Before he passed away early this year, the founder of Swedish global housewares chain IKEA was among the ten richest people in the world, with a reported net worth of $58 billion. Famously parsimonious, he spent much of his life dodging the Nordic country’s high personal and business taxes by creating various corporations and not-for-profits to shield his wealth, and by living in Switzerland. But even when he lived overseas, he still drove Swedish, owning a $25,000 1993 Volvo 240 until he gave up driving.
A look at the 2014 Cadillac XTS, the same car Warren Buffett drives.
Photo: Courtesy of Cadillac
The chairman of the Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, Buffett is reportedly worth more than $80 billion. When he purchased his previous new car in 2006, he chose a cushy, but not outrageous, Cadillac DTS, priced at about $45,000. Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors (which owns the Cadillac brand) convinced him a few years back to update to a $55,000 2014 Cadillac XTS. His old car was auctioned for charity, for $122,500, to support Girls Incorporated in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
As the man who created the Internet retail and media behemoth Amazon, Bezos is said to be the world’s richest person, with a net worth estimated between $100 billion and $150 billion. Still, unlike colleagues like Paul Allen or Bill Gates, who both speed about in seven-figure supercars, Bezos is said to often prefer to drive himself around in a used Honda Accord, valued in the low five-figures.