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White still top color for cars: PPG

November 4, 2016
For the seventh straight year, car buyers in 2016 chose white more than any other color.
An annual report about global automotive color trends compiled by Pittsburgh paints and coatings giant PPG found 38 percent of vehicles built worldwide in 2016 were white, up from 35 percent last year.
White dominates because typically it’s available immediately for any model on the lot, plus it’s neutral enough that owners don’t get tired of it, said Jane Harrington, color styling manager for PPG’s automotive original equipment manufacturer coatings.
"A lot of times people may be attracted by another color on the same vehicle. But buying a car is a big purchase, so they get conservative," she said.
White has topped the popularity rankings since 2010, when it pushed silver out of the top spot.
The other top shades this year were also decidedly neutral: black, with a 16 percent global share; silver, 12 percent; and gray, 10 percent.
It wasn’t just Americans driving off in white cars, either. White topped vehicle colors in every region of the world, PPG’s report showed, with a 25 percent share in North America; 37 percent in South America; 33 percent in Europe; and 47 percent in the Asia Pacific.
In the Asia region, another factor weighs on buyers’ minds. Harrington said the color white accounts for nearly half of vehicles made there because many people think it makes smaller cars look larger and more noticeable. 
"That’s important, especially in China where there is so much traffic," she said.
PPG, which supplies car coatings and finishes as well as industrial and architectural paints, has a network of 20-plus experts who analyze color trends in cars and other consumer products to help the company develop paint shades and palettes that meet market demand.
Although Harringon said she was not surprised more buyers go for neutral-colored cars, she wouldn’t have minded something different.
"I was hoping to see more colors," said Harrington, who added that various shades of blue are emerging among car manufacturers.
This year, the number of blue vehicles rose by 3 percent among luxury, midsize and compact cars, PPG said.
Harrington said she noticed blue popping up two years ago at the Detroit Auto Show, when Porsche displayed a 911 Targa model in a bright sapphire shade.
"Blue’s very traditional but can be interpreted in automotive paint in several ways such as chromatic for sports cars, or a deep blue for luxury models," she said. "It’s very versatile."
Harrington keeps an eye on vehicle colors while she commutes to and from her office near Detroit. Her car is not white.
"Of course not," she said. "I have a Ford Fusion in a very, very vibrant red."