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What’s Missing From Vehicles Today? Colour

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Have you noticed how dull the automotive landscape is? Everywhere you go, it’s all white, black, grey and silver vehicles. This is no big revelation, but a new study shows just how skittish car buyers are about getting colourful with their ride.

The iSeeCars website has shared the results of its study that looks at preference worldwide. The conclusions are not surprising, but the numbers are still astounding:  77% of vehicles currently in service are some form of black, white, grey or silver.

Hardly a recipe for good cheer as the winter months loom, let's say.

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All-grey traffic jam
All-grey traffic jam

Here’s the breakdown of the most popular colours, in percentages: 23.9 percent white, 23.2 percent black, 15.5 percent grey and 14.5 percent silver. The most popular colour other than those 50 shades of grey comes in fifth spot, with 10.3 percent of buyers going for red.

Note that the data was compiled for the 2014-to-2018 model years, but the trend has clearly not changed since then; the results should be roughly the same for the 2019-2020 models. Although some manufacturers have attempted to add colours to some of their products, colourful rides remain the exception on the road and not the rule.

We’ve come a long way since the 1960s and 70s, period during which it wasn’t uncommon for a new vehicle model to be available in 15, 17 or even 18 colours.

The next “real” colour to appear on the hit parade for vehicle colours today is blue, at 9 percent. After that, no particular colour accounts for more than 1.5 percent of the market.

A blue Infiniti Q50
Photo: D.Boshouwers
A blue Infiniti Q50

Several factors explain this long-term trend. First, there is the simple fact of customer demand. Some motorists just love black or white, or certain silver hues. The general belief is that it’s easier to sell a more "neutral" model, so dealers are happy to oblige this demand.

Several automakers make more striking colours available with certain models, but for an extra cost. Many buyers prefer to spend the extra dough on options packages rather than a jazzy colour, however. And that’s when the option is even possible; with many models, the palette offered is thin, to say the least. It’s not uncommon to find three shades hovering between black and white for every “true” colour.

And this fact of life is global in scale.

A row of Cadillac XT4s
Photo: D.Boshouwers
A row of Cadillac XT4s

We can only hope that trends change and our automotive landscape turns more colourful again. Maybe the fall colours we’re currently enjoying will inspire some. And who knows, maybe the advent of electric vehicles will change minds even more!

Here’s the ranking of most popular colour choices for vehicles, in market percentage:

1 - White 23.9
2 - Black 23.2
3 - Grey 15.5
4 - Silver 14.5
5 - Red 10.3
6 - Blue 9.0
7 - Brown 1.4
8 - Green 0.7
9 - Beige 0.4
10 - Orange 0.4
11 - Gold 0.3
12 - Yellow 0.2
13 - Purple 0.1