For the fifth year in a row, white, including pearl white, is the world’s best selling vehicle color. Black, including metallics, is a close second, and grey and silver are third. Together, these neutrals add up to nearly two-thirds of new vehicles sold.
Bright colors such as magenta, lemon, lime and purple certainly command attention on the showroom floor, but according to the annual DuPont Global Automotive Color Popularity Report, they total less than ten percent of the world market.
The survey, now in its 59th year, covers 11 geographic and car category segments. Black is the most popular color in Europe and Russia, especially for luxury vehicles, with 40% of the market share. Silver is tops in China, with 26% market share, which is the same percentage for Japan’s most popular vehicle color, white/white pearl.
Red continues to be the preferred color worldwide for sportscars. Red is an aggressive color, and sportscars tend to be driven more aggressively than the family sedan, even a performance sedan.
“While white/white pearl has historically been a popular color for vehicles, we’ve seen a bigger shift in its popularity this year than DuPont expected,” said Nancy Lockhart, DuPont color marketing manager. She attributes that to the clean look it brings to auto design, and also because white is easy for corporate fleets to dress up with the company logo or other graphics.
The car color you chose can affect your cost of ownership. Scrapes and dings in basic, neutral colors are often less expensive to repair than hot fashion colors, and at trade-in time, white, silver and black are more likely to return a better price.
Car colors also can affect driving safety. A study published by the British Medical Journal indicates that drivers of white and silver cars are 50% less likely to get in accident than those driving other colors. Researchers speculated that silver reflects light better and therefore makes cars more visible to other vehicles. The 2003 study showed that the least safe car colors are brown and green, perhaps because they blend into colors of the terrain alongside roads, especially country roads.
The 2011 DuPont car color report includes trends for the future. This year, they are broken into four “emotions” of color:
Déjà vu – colors in this group are intense, with names like “green velvet”. These are historic colors that symbolize comfort and stability, and are favorites for what DuPont describes as a “mature market and exclusive vehicles”.
Sound of Silence – these are muted, quiet and calming colors inspired by nature’s palette, and ideal for eco-friendly hybrids and other energy-efficient vehicles.
Touch of Blue – even though blue cars comprise just six percernt of the world market, DuPont predicts a growing interest in rich shades like “tactile teal”, and “tickled blue”, with hints of grey.
Matter of Taste – these are yummy colors like “sweet caramel” and “berry fusion”, for new vehicle launches, concept vehicles, limited editions, and the aftermarket. And for the Gen Yers who are buying up models like the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Veloster in bright sherbert shades, including what I like to call taxicab yellow.
“Even though neutrals lead the color popularity, we’re still seeing consumer willingness and preference to showcase a chromatic hue as a form of personal expression,” said Elke Dirks, a DuPont color designer. Even the new luxury level Range Rover Evoque SUV is available in a head-turning lime shade.
We are a long way from returning to Henry Ford’s famous statement that you could buy a Model T in any color so long as it is black.