Shoppers Play it Safe When it Comes to Car Colors [SLIDESHOW]
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In the early 1900s, Henry Ford once said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” By offering just one color, Ford managed to streamline the production process, improve quality and lower prices. As a result, the Ford Model T is often regarded as the first mass-produced car that the working class could afford.
Conservative Color Choices Take the Lead
While black was the popular color of most Model Ts for obvious reasons, AOL points out that car color trends gradually change over time. We may not notice dramatic changes from year to year, but the differences between decades can be significant. By the 1950s, for example, car colors had evolved to vibrant shades of red, blue and yellow.
Today’s most popular car colors are a bit more conservative. According to the 2012 DuPont Automotive Color Popularity Report, white cars accounted for 24 percent of the North American market in 2012. Black cars came in second, at 19 percent of the market, and silver was the third-most popular color, at 16 percent of the market.
However, that doesn’t mean that automakers are afraid to take risks with dramatic paint schemes. The new Ford Escape is available in a distinctive shade of light blue called Frosted Glass, while the Nissan 370Z comes in unique colors like Black Cherry and Midnight Blue. If you’re considering a Volkswagen Beetle, you can choose colors like Yellow Rush and Toffee Brown Metallic.
Perception Drives Color Choices
White, which was also popular in the 1980s, has made a resurgence for a few reasons. FOX News points out that Apple may have contributed to the shift, noting that the company’s all-white stores and polished products are considered modern and high-tech. And unlike the Model T’s monochromatic paint scheme, a variety of white color tones are available today, ranging from flat or bright white to a metallic pearl. White also has a built-in advantage over other colors since it’s popular with business owners who buy work trucks and paint logos on them.
Forbes indicates that silver was the top color from 2001 through 2006, but that white has consistently been one of the top color choices since 1998. In addition, Forbes writes that black and white are both colors that represent luxury, class and quality, which is why they’ve remained popular.
While certain colors evoke a premium feel, other factors may have steered us toward white, silver, black and gray. FOX News writes that these conservative colors became more popular when the economy took a turn for the worse. Since shoppers planned to hold onto their cars longer, they were less likely to take risks than they would be with with loud, flamboyant colors.
The colors we choose may also depend on where we live. According to car coating manufacturer PPG, there are more red cars in North America than most other areas of the world, while black and gray vehicles are more popular than silver ones in Europe. In Asia, silver and white tie for the top spot, and about 7 percent of the cars in each of these regions are blue.
Color Affects Car Values
The color of your next car is ultimately a personal choice, but choosing something other than pea-soup green may pay dividends when it’s time to sell or trade your vehicle. Kelley Blue Book writes that choosing a popular color now will likely help your car maintain its value to a potential shopper five years down the road. Sticking to silver, white, black and gray are the safest bets, while loud colors, such as yellow, orange and purple, may negatively affect your car’s value when it’s time to sell. Color choice overrides brand loyalty too, as Kelley Blue Book indicates that 39 percent of buyers will likely shop another brand if they can’t get their preferred color.
While there are infinitely more color choices today than when Henry Ford introduced the Model T, for the moment, most car shoppers are playing it safe with cars that are white, silver, black or gray. If you were heading out to buy a new car, what colors would catch your eye on the showroom floor?