This article was originally published on BLAC Detroit.

Like most Black Americans, you probably know someone that won’t drive anything but a Cadillac. But, interestingly, Cadillacs weren’t initially made for Blacks. In fact, the brand had a policy that prevented Cadillacs from being sold to African Americans. It wasn’t until General Motors hit a sales slump in the 1930s that it was persuaded to be the first luxury automobile brand to market to African Americans.

In recent years, many other luxury car brands have caught the eyes of Black Americans, from Lincolns to Buicks, and the latest consumer spending trends sees Black Americans buying more luxury cars.

Luxury Cars

What’s Driving the Increase in Luxury Car Purchases by African Americans?

Income inequality and wealth gaps have made the affordability of car ownership a challenge for African Americans. Based on a 2019 survey conducted by the Federal Reserve, white families had more than eight times the wealth of Black families. Even though Blacks experienced the fastest wealth growth from previous years, the wealth gap didn’t change much. A Case in point is that in 2020, 18% of Black households didn’t have a vehicle compared to only 6% of White households. Since the pandemic, inflation has made it way more expensive to buy a car and fuel it with gas.

At the same time, Black Americans have become major consumers, spending more than a trillion dollars annually on products and services despite their lack of wealth. This also extends to the automotive industry, where Black consumer spending is expected to reach $190 billion by 2030. In addition, the pricing gap between luxury and non-luxury has narrowed for many vehicle categories, making them more affordable.


So, what’s been driving the increase in luxury car purchases by Black Americans? Advertising! A Nielsen report found that Black people are 42% more likely to be influenced by advertising than other ethnicities. This includes radio, TV, and Internet ads. In particular, Blacks tend to be tech-savvy and look for brands that speak to their culture and encourage self expression.

Also, compared to non-Blacks, African Americans tend to purchase vehicles not only for their affordability and value for the money but also based on emotions including:   

  • Brand trust 
  • Perceived reliability of the brand
  • Proud of owning the brand 
  • Recognition from other drivers with the same brand

What Luxury Cars Are African Americans Purchasing?

The Cadillac Escalade is a popular luxury brand among African Americans, especially the younger generations. According to the Marketer’s Guide to African American Millennials, compared to other races, Blacks are:

  • 57% more likely to drive a Cadillac
  • 40% more likely to drive a Lincoln
  • 27% more likely to drive a Buick

It’s been speculated that the draw to Escalades is tied to music, including hip-hop and rap culture. Think back to this: 2019…Super Bowl LIII 53…Halftime Show… Outkast’s Big Boi pulls up in a vintage convertible Caddy.

What’s the Impact of Black Luxury Car Buyers on the Automotive Industry?

The market share of luxury brands has been booming. Although, African Americans haven’t been the primary target market for luxury cars, their spending is expected to grow and impact the automotive industry.

According to a report from Experian Automotive: 

  • In 2020, Blacks purchased 10.2% of all luxury vehicles sold in the U.S., up from 7.4% in 2010. 
  • In 2020, the average price of a luxury car purchased by an African American was $50,000, compared to $45,000 in 2010. 
  • In 2020, Blacks spent $5.6 billion on luxury cars, up from $3.9 billion in 2010. 

As demand increases, you should see more brands tailoring their products and marketing to appeal to African Americans. Luxury car dealers may be able to tap into $14 billion worth of Black consumer spending. This trend may also lead to Blacks starting up their own luxury car dealership like Posh Luxury Imports.

Are You in the Market for a New Car?

The auto supply chain challenges have led to increased auto prices and a decline in the availability of mainstream brands. You’ll therefore likely find a better selection among luxury vehicles — and maybe even comparable costs.

If you love the look of luxury, check out these 33 Black Detroit fashion brands that are sure to be a hit this year.

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