Why this is the most popular car colour, according to science
Why are white and silver cars so popular? This is the science of car colours.
Like any trend, fad or fashion, popular car colours come and go. But what drives this change in mood can vary enormously. And now, perhaps, our choice in car colours will become a matter for those most pragmatic of influencers; computers.
Back in the 1950s and ’60s when consumerism was taking off in a post-war world, the jet age was informing car design. Those big, glowing tail-lights on many cars of the day, not to mention the fabulously over-the-top tailfins, were obvious hints at the romance of jet power. But you get the feeling that colours we painted our cars were also being influenced by the things around us, too.
Check out the pastel blues, greens and pinks that were popular then. Now look at a contemporary 1960s bathroom or kitchen setting. It can’t be a coincidence, can it?
Move forward a decade. Was it a fluke that Dad’s mustard Valiant Charger matched, almost exactly, the colour of the shag-pile carpet in the room that was recently renovated from loungeroom to conversation pit?
These days, car buyers have moved from those volume-knob colours to a palette that is much more conservative. Whites and silver tones are the new king of the showroom, and, along with black, make up more than half of all new cars in the western world. Check out the airport car-park next time you fly over it and you’ll see what I mean.
Colour psychologists (yes, they’re a thing) believe that the colour of a product can be a major influence on whether you buy it or not. This same group of professionals will also tell you that the colour of food can affect its taste for a percentage of lab rats – er, sorry – consumers.
US-based car-paint manufacturer Axalta, a global paint supplier, publishes reports on automotive colour trends, including some very revealing data on regional preferences. Its 2015 report, for instance, showed that while black cars are a big player in most markets, black is a no-go in India where just three per cent of new cars in that year were ordered in black. Oh, and don’t order a blue car in China; just one per cent of Chinese new cars were blue in 2015, so you won’t be selling it in a hurry.