The World’s Most Popular Car Colors Show We Really Are A Dull Bunch, Aren’t We?

Really? More of you couldn't buy red or green cars?

The World's Most Popular Car Colors Show We Really Are A Dull Bunch, Aren't We?
Oh, sure, the Lexus GX 460 looks fun in the snow, but when it’s finished in white it’s just boring…I’m sorry, what were we talking about? (Photo: Lexus)

Let’s do an exercise, you guys. Imagine you had upward of $55,000 to spend on a brand new Lexus GX 460. Or any car, crossover or truck at that price point — take your pick. You can choose from a series of colors including deep reds, vibrant blues and, in some cases like the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang, awesome Skittles-like colors like Twister Orange and Grabber Lime. But instead, 38% of you the world over say, “Nah, I’ll just get it in white instead.” According to a recent study by liquid and powder coating supplier Axalta, you all choose white cars above any other available color. White tops the global chart, followed by black at 19% and gray at 15%. Just those three colors alone account for over half of the most frequently purchased colors the world over.

Really, just plain white? Are we really that boring?

White wins the most popular color in Axalta’s recently published popularity report…for the 10th year in a row. (Image: Axalta Global Automotive 2020 Color Popularity Report)

Automakers built 81% of their vehicles in white, black, gray or silver

Look, I’m not knocking white as a terrible color. Understandably, when they spend their own money most folks care about resale value on the other end. They also care about not offending a vast array of people they meet on the road or in their social circles, so they go for the neutral tones. Interestingly, as the data has shown for some time, that’s one trend that seems to cross cultures and regional boundaries as well. Overall, those four colors make up the lion’s share of new car sales no matter the region. That said, white is by far the most popular color in Asia.

In Europe, buyers buck the trend a little bit, buying white or gray cars in equal numbers. Silver also falls out of the top four, with blue actually taking 10% of the market, according to this study. But, all in all color trends tend to scale globally, as we all scamper to the dealerships to spend our hard-earned cash on white, gray, black or silver hunks of metal in which to ferry ourselves around until we buy the next one.

The Toyota Corolla Nightshade aims to spice things up a bit with blacked out wheels, mirror caps and trim accents, but what’s the point if you buy it in white?

Room to innovate?

Honestly, I appreciate you all sticking around to hear me out on this car colors gripe. I could use your help, though, to work out statements like the one Axalta included with this data. “The consumer purchasing trends reflected in this report drive our development of innovative colors for the future,” says global product manager Nancy Lockhart. “We’re pleased to share this data with our customers and bring together our industry-leading color technology, deep market experience and trend data to work with our customers and bring dynamic colors to life.”

Seems to me that statement largely ignores the fact that people buy white cars. We want to talk about “innovative” and “dynamic” when people in their millions buy white cars? To my mind, it’s like painting a house you’re trying to flip or buying an appliance. When I buy a washing machine I don’t care that it’s white, I just want it to wash my clothes. Perhaps that’s how a plurality of people feel about the cars they buy (and I’m shouting into a void, as a car enthusiast), but it’s difficult to see what they’re talking about.

Am I the only one who feels this way? The statement goes on to say, “The future landscape of automotive color continues to change as vehicle and consumer preferences evolve.” Great PR language, but white has been the most popular color for the past decade…followed by gray. Like overcast. Drizzle. That’s fantastic.

More of us need to buy orange cars. (Photo: Dodge)

Some of you don’t buy boring-colored cars, and I commend you

Full disclosure — I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of following this trend. My first car was white, and my second car was black. But I woke up eventually, and bought a “Spirited Green” Mazda2 hatchback in my early college years. Now, I drive a Deep Crystal Blue CX-5 because I’ve ostensibly “grown up”. All right, I’ll admit it’s not Plum Crazy or Go Mango (above), but I wanted to do something other than those four “neutral” colors. In fact, I’ll make a commitment at this point to never buy a boring color again, and you all can rip me a new one if I renege on that.

Again, I mean no offense to those of you who bought these colors by your own choice. It’s not that I want to rail against everyone who buys a white, black, gray or silver car…Sometimes, I wish people would just buy it in another hue. It would make the roads more colorful, and our lives a little more vibrant considering what a dumpster fire 2020 has been.

Here’s the whole report if you’re interested, and thanks for reading my (totally not TED) talk. Let me know what you think below, and here’s some Grabber Lime to jazz up your day: