TROY, MI – There might be a few more blue and orange cars on the road in the next year or two, but white is still the king of automotive colors in the U.S. and around the world, according to the latest research by paint-supplier PPG Industries.
Jane Harrington, PPG manager-color, styling and automotive OEM coatings, says the company’s annual automotive color popularity research shows that a conservative palette of white, black, gray and silver was the top choice of consumers when purchasing a new vehicle in 2015. The study shows some variation by region globally, but white and black still lead in all markets, with white hues showing the largest jump in popularity in China in the past year. White usurped silver as the world’s favorite car color in 2011, after a decade of silver dominance.
Why? Harrington says white is a “core” color, offered on all vehicles in all model lines, so it’s available, with OEMs in the U.S. offering some 30 different whites. The simple color also works with every vehicle design, and it’s become a fashionable hue that signifies futuristic design and high technology, the role silver used to play, she says.
White also makes small cars look larger – a key factor in the growth in popularity in China – and it’s a safer color, with data showing white cars are involved in fewer accidents.
While white’s popularity shows no sign of slacking, PPG still sees some colorful opportunities as it reveals 64 new tints for 2018-2019 models in four widely varied categories:
Hyper HD, a high-definition “mix of dazzling bright hues with the layered effects of tinted clears and tri-coats.”
IM perfect, a nature-influenced organic color palette featuring greens and copper and brass metal hues.
Knight’s Watch, which includes all the dark colors and classic blacks traditionally associated with safety and security.
Lucid Dreams, which launches a line of calming pastels and whites that Harrington says are “the opposite of all this overload of technology.”
Black Hues Most-Searched by Online Shoppers
White might rule the brick-and-mortar world, but black is the most-searched vehicle color on the Web – and the Ford F-150 is the most searched-for black vehicle online, according to the car-shopping site Autotrader.com.
Autotrader reports that of all new-car searches on its site in the first six months of 2015, 25% of those were for a black vehicle. Ford says those results are consistent with its marketing data that shows Tuxedo Black tops the list as the overall most popular paint option nationally for the ’15 F-150.
“Color is a very important part of the vehicle purchase,” says Barb Whalen, Ford color and materials design manager. “After, ‘What vehicle did you get?’ it’s usually the second question asked: ‘What color is it?’ People relate their style to their color selection because it says something about their personality.”
The popularity of black can be attributed in part to its association with strength and with more luxurious vehicles, according to Paul Czornij, North American coatings designer with BASF, a paint supplier for the F-150.
“Black is a color of mystery, strength and boldness, and it’s very common on high-end vehicles because there’s that projection of power and strength,” Czornij says.
That said, white also is growing in popularity for high-end trucks such as the King Ranch and Platinum F-150s, likely due to its use in smartphones and computers, he says. And regionally, environmental colors like bronze are gaining strength.
A more diverse palette might be in the future, PPG’s Harrington says, especially considering some of the brighter colors automakers have been using on auto show display vehicles, and the general trend toward more color choices in non-automotive products.
“With consumers telling us they want more color in other areas, it’s surprising that neutral colors are still so strong in automotive,” Harrington says.