Power Players

Why billionaire and presidential hopeful Tom Steyer drives a 2016 Chevy

US environmental activist and Democrat Tom Steyer listens to a quesiton during a Town Hall meeting In the Need to Impeach President Donald Trump in New York on January 29, 2018. Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist and philanthropist, launched the Need to Impeach movement through television and social networking advertisement on October 20, 2017, calling on supporters to sign a petition.
JEWEL SAMAD | AFP | Getty Images

Tom Steyer is a self-made billionaire. He launched his own investment fund, Farallon Capital, in 1986 with $9 million and grew the fund to a peak of $36 billion assets under management.

He left his role at the firm to focus on philanthropy in 2012 and has since become both a vocal activist to impeach President Donald Trump and, more recently, a candidate for President of the United States as a Democrat.

But despite his wealth and power, Steyer drives a 2016 Chevrolet Volt, a hybrid gas and electric vehicle. A 2019 Volt starts at $33,520.

The Green Car of the Year award winner 2016 Chevrolet Volt is displayed at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
David McNew | Getty Images

"Tom's not into money. He's into achievement. He's into changing the world for the better," his brother Jim Steyer told Forbes in 2011. "He's the accidental billionaire."

In addition to driving the affordable car, Steyer flies commercial, his presidential campaign communications spokesperson, Alberto Lammers, tells CNBC Make It. The 2011 Forbes profile of Steyer says the billionaire in fact "usually" flies in "economy."

This in a world of billionaires who often fly on their own private jets. "It is obviously brutally expensive, but time is the one asset we simply don't own. It saves me hours and hours," "Shark Tank" star and billionaire Mark Cuban told Men's Journal in 2016 about his decision to buy a plane.

According to Forbes, Steyer was also known for wearing one of eight "dated red wool plaid" ties every day — a style that he still sports.

Indeed, Steyer's letter of commitment to The Giving Pledge, an organization established by the billionaire buddies Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage billionaires to contribute the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes, reinforced Steyer's disinterest in the trappings of luxury and wealth.

Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, said they want enough money to provide education and "excellent healthcare" for their four children and family, "[b]ut otherwise, we enjoy our life here in California and don't require more material possessions. We want to leave our kids a different kind of inheritance, an example of at least trying to lead a worthy life."

See also:

Mark Cuban remembers the exact moment he became a billionaire (Spoiler: It involves a 'naked billionaire dance')

Self-made billionaire and presidential hopeful Tom Steyer's investing rule: Don't be greedy

Meet the billionaire businessman obsessed with impeaching Trump

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

US environmental activist and Democrat Tom Steyer listens to a quesiton during a Town Hall meeting In the Need to Impeach President Donald Trump in New York on January 29, 2018. Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist and philanthropist, launched the Need to Impeach movement through television and social networking advertisement on October 20, 2017, calling on supporters to sign a petition.
JEWEL SAMAD | AFP | Getty Images
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