White, silver top colors for vehicles
DETROIT — If you bought a new vehicle this year, chances are high it was white or silver.
Twenty-two percent of cars and trucks built for the 2012 model year have white paint, making it the most popular color worldwide. Silver is close behind, at 20 percent, followed by black at 19 percent. Gray and red follow to round out the top five.
White is the most popular color for the second year in a row after overtaking silver in 2011. The annual rankings are compiled by automotive paint supplier PPG Industries Inc., a Pittsburgh-based company that provides paints to General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., BMW AG and others.
The rankings are skewed somewhat by the large number of pickup trucks on the market. Trucks accounted for 55 percent of North American production in the first eight months of this year, according to Ward's, which compiles automotive data. One in four pickups produced is white because business owners often use them as work trucks and paint logos on them. By comparison, 19 percent of midsize cars made in North America are white.
White, which was also popular in the 1980s, is making a comeback as a modern, high-tech color thanks in part to Apple Inc.'s all-white stores and glossy white gadgets, said Jane Harrington, PPG's manager of color styling for car companies. Manufacturers are also making more varieties of white, from the flat, bright white on many vans to the pearly cream of luxury SUVs.
Silver also rose in popularity as a high-tech color starting in the 2000s. It remains popular because it highlights every angle of a car, Harrington said.
White and other “safe” colors — silver, gray and black — also got more popular during the economic downturn, as buyers stopped leasing and bought vehicles they expected to hold on to for much longer, said Michelle Killen, GM's lead color designer for exterior paints.
They were leery of some of the more daring colors on the market, like the magenta available on the Ford Fiesta or the bright orange on the Scion iQ.
“Buyers want to purchase a color they won't grow tired of over an extended period of time,” Killen said.
Color preferences vary by geography. You'll find more red vehicles in North America. Black and gray overtake silver in popularity in Europe. Drivers in Asia like tan and gold but not green. Only about 7 percent of cars in every region are blue.
PPG, which also develops paints for cell phones, laptops, airplanes and houses, bases its automotive paints on trends it sees in fashion, interior design and other areas. Harrington saw a lot of purple at a recent home color show in Paris, for example, so she helped develop a purplish gray paint for cars. PPG starts showing paints to carmakers three or four years ahead of a model's release, and automakers settle on colors two or three years before a model goes on sale.
Harrington predicts customers will see more browns and oranges over the next two years, especially on luxury cars. Brown — which reminds people of leather or a rich cup of coffee — evokes luxury around the world. Earthy colors are also appealing to drivers concerned about the environment.
As for the 2015 and 2016 model years, PPG is showing 64 future color options to automakers this week. Among those are Al Fresco, a silver metallic with a green tint; Glacier, an icy gray with a violet blue tone; and Elixir, a metallic mixture of silver and magenta.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- No more room on iPad? You’ll need to trim some of that fat
- 8th-grader gets venture capital for inexpensive Braille-printer
- As banking goes mobile, branch closures rip through local economy
- Employers prepare for demographic shift
- Decoding mutual funds jargon
- Cheap gas lets small business dream big
- Taxpayer clinics fill IRS void
- Plus-size fashion bloggers recruited
- Drillers bid millions for oil, gas beneath West Virginia public lands
- Kennametal plans plant closings, job cuts in fallout from oil and gas decline
- Fight to lift crude export ban grows