Silver Still Favorite Vehicle Color

What’s North America’s favorite vehicle color? Well, according to new data from paint-maker PPG Industries, silver and charcoal were the most popular color family in North America, followed by white. But according to last year’s DuPont data, white was the leading car color in America. So who’s right? It depends on whether you consider charcoal to be part of the silver family.

While we don’t claim to be color experts, charcoal to us seems to be properly ensconced amid the blacks rather than silvers. But PPG has lumped charcoal in the silver category, so the combined entry of silver and charcoal (with 25 percent of vehicles) is the most popular “color” in North America. White paint adorns 18 percent of North American new cars, followed by black (16 percent), red (12 percent), blue (11 percent), natural colors (7 percent) and green (4 percent.) If you were to add the “charcoal” percentage to the “black” percentage, maybe that combo would out-point white -- but we don’t want to start an international color controversy here. 

For the ninth consecutive year, the silver category -- which, as we said, inexplicably includes charcoal and gray shades -- has ranked as the most popular vehicle color in the world, according to PPG. In Europe, silver and charcoal (35 percent) were followed by black (22 percent), blue and white (13 percent each). These four color categories comprise more than 80 percent of all vehicles in Europe, while white is the fastest-growing color in Europe. Now at 13 percent, in has nearly doubled its popularity in just two years’ time.

“White is considered to be very trendy and sporty by consumers in Europe,” said Reiner Mueller-Koerber, PPG manager, color styling, Europe. “There is high demand to develop white with unique effects. This new interest in white will continue to be a challenge for the designers and technicians.”

At this year’s annual Automotive Colour Trend Show, the coatings company presented its ideas for future vehicle colors. Entitled “3D Colour,” the show included a collection of interior and exterior colors developed globally and inspired by fashion, interior design, industrial design, culture, commercial construction and nature. Among the 60 new exterior shades and 10 new interior shades were Champagne Silver, a tinted silver with a slight warm copper beige cast; Outer Space Blue, a deep, dark blue with a slight sparkle effect; Haute Couture, a black base coat with a high-sparkle blue mid-coat that gives it an appearance inspired by a black designer evening gown with blue sequins; Quantum Rose, an interior color close to a neon red; and Hulk, a color developed in Australia that is bright green, just like its namesake. (That should be enough to persuade you to avoid Australian designers at all costs.)

“Clearly, the automotive industry is moving toward more color choices,” said Jane E. Harrington, PPG manager, color styling, automotive coatings, in Troy, Mich. “Palettes are broadening as the number of models decreases and the industry consolidates. Going forward, automotive manufacturers are going to be relying on color more and more to distinguish their brands.”

In all, the more the percentages change, the more the colors stay the same. It will be interesting to see if the public warms to more vibrant colors when they come to market in the next couple of years.