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White remains No. 1 choice for car color.

January 24, 2020
White remained the most popular car color in 2019, according to Germany-based chemical company BASF, which does an annual report on automotive coatings.
 
About 39% of all cars built globally are white. In North America, white, black, silver and gray make up 77% of the market.
 
Smaller vehicles are more likely to show a blast of color, according to the report that also said pickup trucks in North America are trending toward deep, rich blacks.    
 
Paul Czornij, a designer for BASF in Michigan, recounted that silver was the most popular global color in the late 1990s and early 2000s. "A lot of that," he said, "related to automotive technology and how silver represented that."
 
Czornij said white made inroads because other industries because other industries began using it to demonstrate the face of technology. A software and computer company led the way by making white a popular color for phones, radios and gadgets.
 
"The automotive market said, ‘OK, what can we do to bring white as a color that would be more than what it had been in the past?’ " he recounted. "There was an advent of a pearlescent look to white. It is associated with sophistication, beauty and purity. It’s even being used now to show off environmentally friendly vehicles."
 
When people think "environmentally friendly, they probably think "green." Czornij said that color had its highest popularity in the mid-1990s. "It was pretty significant," he said. "We’re seeing more movement in green, but it might be a while before it starts showing up more on cars. Right now, white seems to rule the roost." 
 
Juan Flores from Kelley Blue Book said that emerald green looks great on the new-car lot but doesn’t do so well in the used-car market. It loses $500 to $700 of its residual value just because of the color.
 
Czornij said there is a prevailing line of thought that one has to have a neutral color – usually white, black, silver or gray – to make the car easier to sell the car. "Also," he said, "if you buy, say, a silver or gray car, you can probably rest easy that color won’t fall out of fashion. Whereas, if you buy a bright purple car, that might not be the case. 
 
"You may like a particular color on your cellphone or something small. It gives a certain impression. But if you take that same color and spread it out on a big surface like a car, it will have a different look and feel."  
 
Mike Jackson, the retired CEO of AutoNation once said, "Do you know how many people go to a dealership looking for a white vehicle, and end up driving away in a black one?" His point was that car shoppers can be flexible on colors, even contrasting colors. 
 
"You’ll get a mixed bag of people and how they reach a car-buying decision. There are people influenced by the dealer, Czornij said. "They walk in wanting an orange car, and leave in a gray car because they were convinced it may be more prudent as far as resale value. Other people are going to stick to their original color decision and will walk if they can’t get it at a dealership.
 
"Think about it. With an exterior car color, you are projecting a piece of yourself to the world. The interior is your more personal space, but what you put on the car projects your image to the rest of society. It’s more complex than a lot of people give it credit for."
 
 

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