Neutral Colors Dominate Vehicle Choices: Auto Trends 2023

By Cee Lippens February 21, 2023
White, Black, Gray, and Silver continue to top the list of popular colors for cars. But does color really matter? Like many vehicle features, color plays a role in determining the residual value of a car. Today’s popular car color will probably make a vehicle more valuable to the seller five years from now, but shifting color trends could also impact the value of those cars.  In addition to the rising popularity of grays, other colors from blues, greens, and violets have been gaining market share with car shoppers in 2021 and 2022. White, Black, Gray, and Silver continue to top the list of popular colors for cars. But does color really matter? Like many vehicle features, color plays a role in determining the residual value of a car. Today’s popular car color will probably make a vehicle more valuable to the seller five years from now, but shifting color trends could also impact the value of those cars. In addition to the rising popularity of grays, other colors from blues, greens, and violets have been gaining market share with car shoppers in 2021 and 2022.

Buying a car, truck, or SUV can be one of the most expensive expressions of personal taste a consumer makes and one of the most important decisions for that car shopper is what color to choose. 

Some buyers are swayed by bold colors while many others take a more neutral approach. Though percentages vary across the globe, the world's top three trending colors remain neutral in shade: white, black and gray. Axalta recently released its 70th annual Global Automotive Color Popularity Report (the auto industry’s longest running and most comprehensive color account), which revealed the top automotive colors in various regions. 

White takes first place on the #1 selling vehicle in the U.S., the Ford F-150.  

Together, vehicles in white, black, gray and silver add up to 82% of cars on the road globally. White shades held the lead (34% total) with pearlescent whites at 14% popularity and solid whites at 20%. Next, the deep black colors cover 21% of vehicles on the road. And gray colors fall in at 19%.“Today’s vehicles are more vibrant than ever,” said Robert Schnell, Vice President, Global Sales & Product Management, Axalta. “For example, compared to the white color variations of the 1950s, these whites are brighter and beam with iridescent flakes.”

By region, North America has white leading with 30% of color share, gray at 20%, black at 19%, and blue at 11%. North America also had the highest number of red vehicles (7%). In the EU for the 4th year in a row, gray led with 27%, black at 22%, white at  21%, and blue at 11%. In China, the world's largest auto market, white grabs 43% of the car buying public's fancy, with black at 26%, gray at 16% and blue at 5%.  

Used-car color breakdown by popularity. 

Carfax looked at a million used-car listings in 2022, and like new vehicles, the vast majority are decked out in neutral colors— like black, gray, silver, and white.

This trend toward autos that do not make a color statement has been ramping up since the early 2000s, but car color preferences have not always been that way. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s bright and bold colors were the norm. Along with generous amounts of chrome, colors included bright shades of blue, red, green, gold, as well as white and black. In the '60s, automakers dropped two-tone paint jobs and muscle cars added colors like bright yellow, and the violet family. These bold colors were popular on models like the Ford Mustang, Pontiac GTO, and the Plymouth Barracuda. In the 1990s, with the growth of the SUV segment, green (of all shades) were the most popular colors. Fusion colors, such as aqua, the fusion of blue and green, became common. In addition, two-tone paint re-emerged on some SUVs. 

 

A 1970 Hemi Cuda painted in the popular Hi-Impact color known as In-Violet. The violet color is making a come-back along with Muscle cars.  Expect to see more Violets on up and coming models, especially throw-back EV models like Ford's Mustang Mach E. Vibrant new colors are more likely to debut on sporty models rather than SUVs and pickups.

 

Blue gained market share this year across the globe and may take even more in the years to come. Techno Blue, an ultramodern blue with hue-shifting effects, is Axalta’s color of the year for 2023. The company says, “Techno Blue is a pulsating color that is right on beat with the rhythm of today’s lively energy. The modern, whimsical shade also embodies the transition from the real to virtual world. Techno Blue is formulated for various coating solutions, and enriches the already diverse Axalta color palette.”

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Last modified on Tuesday, 21 February 2023 14:52