Smart cars are becoming increasingly popular among drivers globally, thanks to their compact size and eco-friendly features.
But who exactly is driving these pint-sized vehicles?
Let’s take a closer look at the demographics behind the smart car trend.
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Check also: How Reliable Are Smart Cars?
Quick Facts About Smart Car Buyers And Demographics
Here are some quick facts about Smart car buyers:
- Over 50% of Smart car owners have a college degree or higher
- Approximately 60% of Smart car owners are male
- The average age of a Smart car owner is around 47 years old
- Smart car buyers generally have a median annual household income of $92,000
- In urban areas, Smart cars account for about 3.3% of new vehicle registrations
- Smart car owners are 2.8 times more likely to be concerned about fuel efficiency than the average new car buyer
- Around 35% of Smart car buyers belong to the “Creative Class,” a demographic that includes professionals in arts, science, education, and innovation sectors
Other Quick Smart Car Facts
- Smart cars were first introduced in 1998
- Smart cars are approximately 8.8 feet long
- The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive has a range of 58 miles per charge
- Smart cars have a fuel efficiency of around 33-39 mpg in the city
- In 2016, Smart became the first car brand to switch entirely to electric vehicles in the U.S.
- Smart cars have a top speed of around 84 mph
- The Smart EQ Fortwo has an electric motor with 41 horsepower and 60 lb-ft of torque
- The Smart Fortwo has a 22.8-foot turning circle
- In 2018, 1,276 Smart cars were sold in the United States
- Smart announced the discontinuation of sales in the U.S. and Canada in 2019
- The Smart brand is a joint venture between Daimler AG and Geely
We have a separate article here listing the most common problems with Smart cars.
These are the primary age groups for Smart cars:
|Millennials||These are the leading age group interested in smart cars and electric vehicles (EVs). Research also suggests that millennials value sustainable and environmentally friendly options, making them more receptive to the idea of tiny electric vehicles.|
|Car owners aged 25 to 45 (Millennials & Gen X)||They are more likely to rent out their vehicles through car-sharing platforms, and they are also more prone to buy cars that leave the smallest lesser carbon footprint.|
|Car owners over the age of 60||Nearly half of all car owners in the United States are over the age of 60 years old. These include indivieuals needing to save for their retirement.|
When examining the demographics of smart car owners and potential buyers, age plays a significant role in determining the interest and uptake of this technology.
Millennials, consisting of individuals aged 23 to 38 years old, have emerged as the leading age group interested in smart cars and electric vehicles (EVs).
In the United States, as of April 2021, millennials were the most likely age group to consider purchasing an electric vehicle.
This heightened interest in smart cars and EVs among millennials can be attributed to their widespread adoption of technology, as 93% of this demographic own smartphones.
Additionally, research suggests that millennials value sustainable and environmentally friendly options, making them more receptive to the idea of electric vehicles.
Another related demographic showcasing interest in smart cars are car owners within the age range of 25 to 45 years old. These individuals, often categorized as being part of the millennial or Generation X cohorts, are more likely to rent out their vehicles through car-sharing platforms, further highlighting their comfort and engagement with technology-driven solutions for transportation.
On the other hand, it is important to recognize that nearly half of all car owners in the United States are over the age of 60 years old.
The high upfront and running costs associated with smart cars and electric vehicles may prove to be a deterrent for this age group, as many need to save for their retirement or manage other financial priorities.
In the United States, men are more likely to own cars than women, despite the fact that more women held valid driver’s licenses in 2019.
Dispite this fact, women are more likely to buy Smart cars.
We assume these are the reasons:
- Fuel efficiency: Women may prioritize fuel efficiency to save money on fuel costs and reduce their environmental impact.
- Easy maneuverability: Smart cars are smaller and easier to maneuver, making parking and navigating tight spaces more convenient.
- Lower maintenance costs: Smart cars tend to have lower maintenance costs, which could be an appealing factor for budget-conscious women.
- Eco-friendliness: Women may be more environmentally conscious and attracted to smart cars because of their reduced carbon emissions and impact on the environment.
- Aesthetics and style: Smart cars have a unique design and style that may appeal to women who prefer a more compact and modern-looking vehicle.
- Urban living: Women who live in urban areas may find smart cars particularly attractive due to their suitability for city driving and limited parking spaces.
Let’s do a little math:
- A new Smart EQ Fortwo Coupe cost around $25K and a Smart EQ Fortwo Cabriolet cost around $29K.
- Based on the general rule of thumb, your monthly car payment should not exceed 10-15% of your monthly take-home pay.
- If you want to finance a new Smart EQ Fortwo Coupe with a 60-month loan and a 4% interest rate, your monthly payment would be approximately $453.
- To afford a monthly payment of $453, you would need to make at least $3,020 per month after taxes, or $36,240 per year.
So, it’s reasonable to assume that you need to make at least $35,000 per year to afford a Smart Car.
Research shows that vehicle ownership tends to increase as income surpasses $50,000, making it difficult for low-income earners to afford car ownership due to the high running costs associated with owning a vehicle.
When focusing on the demographics of smart car ownership, it is important to consider the percentage of people within various income brackets that opt to lease these vehicles.
Household Income Level
A breakdown of income levels with the percentage of those who lease vehicles, according to “The Zebra”, is as follows:
- Household income under $25,000 — 4%
- Household income $25,000 to $50,000 — 5%
- Household income $50,000 to $100,000 — 10%
This data suggests that as income level decreases, so does the likelihood of leasing a smart car.
Smart cars are mostly owned by:
- City dwellers
- Young singles
- Young families (1-2 kids)
This also means we have Smart car owners spread out across all education levels.
Famous People Who Drive a Smart Car
George Clooney is one such celebrity who reportedly owns a Smart car.
Known for his environmental and humanitarian activism, it comes as no surprise that Clooney would choose a vehicle that aligns with his values.
Reese Witherspoon is another example.
while it is unclear whether she owns a Smart car, she was seen driving one in the popular movie “Legally Blonde II.” This appearance contributed to the car’s increased visibility and appeal.
Here is a good list of celebrities who have been known to drive or have been associated with Smart cars at some point in time:
- Justin Bieber
- George Clooney
- Zooey Deschanel
- Ashton Kutcher
- Britney Spears
- Claire Danes
- Karolina Kurkova
- Nyle DiMarco
- Ryan Reynolds
- Joshua Jackson
- Ellen DeGeneres
- Miley Cyrus
- Kristin Chenoweth
- Simon Cowell
- Andy Dick
- Isla Fisher
- Selma Blair
- Amy Smart
- Jonathan Ross
- Sarah Jessica Parker
- Matthew Broderick
- Mel B (Melanie Brown)
- Shaquille O’Neal (customized for his size)
- Jean-Claude Van Damme
- Wendie Malick
- Daryl Hannah
- Danny Glover
- Kelly Osbourne
- Sheryl Crow
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Justin Bieber
- Hayden Panettiere
The choice of a Smart car by these famous individuals highlights its unique appeal and its role as both a pragmatic option for urban dwellers and a choice that allows drivers to make an eco-friendly statement.
As the automotive industry continues to evolve, it will be interesting to watch how the demographics of Smart car drivers change and adapt to new trends.
Urban vs Rural Settings
Smart cars are definitely more popular in urban environments.
Cities are often packed with cars – so owning a tiny car can be a huge advantage when looking for a parking spot.
Check how little space this Smart car takes up on the street here:
You don’t find many Smart cars in rural areas, except for people using them as a tow-car behind their RVs.
Smart Cars Are Popular As Tow-Cars Behind Big RVs
As GoDownsize.com suggests, Smart cars are good as tow cars.
Smart cars have rapidly become a popular choice for use as tow-cars behind recreational vehicles (RVs) due to their unique blend of features that make them an ideal companion on the road.
Their compact size is the first attribute that draws attention; with a length of just around 8.8 feet, smart cars can easily be maneuvered and parked at any destination.
This small size contributes to their low weight, which, in turn, makes it more affordable to tow them behind an RV, as it has minimal impact on fuel consumption.
Fuel efficiency is another significant advantage of smart cars when used as tow-cars.
Once you’ve reached your destination and uncoupled your smart car, you’ll enjoy the benefits of its eco-friendly design as you explore the local area. This fuel-efficient vehicle allows you to save on gas expenses without compromising on performance or convenience.
Lastly, the affordable price of smart cars makes them an attractive option for RV enthusiasts. Their lower cost of entry ensures that you don’t need to break the bank to add a tow-car to your RV setup.
What Other Car Brands Target the Same Demographics as Smart Car?
Smart car, which was a brand under Daimler, primarily targeted consumers interested in compact, fuel-efficient vehicles.
While the brand has ceased sales in the United States in 2019, there are several other car brands and models that have tapped into this particular demographic.
Some of these car brands and models include:
- Toyota Prius – A popular hybrid car known for its fuel efficiency and environmentally-friendly features.
- Fiat 500 – A compact car boasting a stylish retro design and appealing to buyers who look for both style and fuel efficiency.
- Mini Cooper – Combining a unique exterior design with a small yet powerful engine, Mini offers a range of compact car models that cater to the same demographic as the Smart car.
- Hyundai Elantra Hybrid – This vehicle offers better fuel efficiency as compared to the Smart car, achieving up to 56 miles per gallon on the highway.
- Chevrolet Spark – A small car with an affordable price tag and excellent fuel economy that appeals to price-conscious buyers.
These car brands have managed to attract the same demographic as the Smart car primarily by focusing on fuel efficiency, small size, and unique designs. Each brand has its distinctive features catering to a specific audience, yet they all converge by offering compact and fuel-efficient vehicles like those under the Smart car brand.
It is important for these car brands to understand their demographic to deliver a message that resonates with their target audience. With the right marketing strategy and communication, brands like Toyota, Fiat, Mini, Hyundai, and Chevrolet can effectively cater to consumers who may have previously considered Smart cars as their choice for compact, fuel-efficient vehicles.
Smart Car Market Overview
The smart car market has been rapidly growing and is expected to continue expanding in the coming years. The demand for smart cars is driven by several factors, including an increasing focus on environmentally friendly transportation options, advances in autonomous driving technology, and a shift towards urban living, which requires more space-efficient vehicles.
What U.S. State has Most Smart Cars?
While it is challenging to pinpoint the exact state in the U.S. with the highest concentration of smart cars, California is known to be a leader in adopting electric and autonomous vehicles.
This trend can be attributed to the state’s strict emissions regulations, a wealth of charging infrastructure, and a generally tech-savvy population.
Furthermore, the state is home to numerous companies developing autonomous driving technology, which contributes to the high adoption rate of smart cars.
Other states, such as New York, Massachusetts, and Washington, have also shown interest in expanding their adoption of smart cars, primarily due to the focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving urban mobility.