You probably remember falling in love with a car at first sight. A really cool car. The design attitude, the groovy sound of the engine, the magic of the brand, and, not least the irresistible paintwork. Whether you bought it or not, the first impression of that colour may subconsciously affect your preferences and buying decision more than you know.


A divided world

In the US, most people (fully 26%) prefer white cars, according to Kelley Blue Book. In stark contrast, the first choice of the Brits is black (Source: Maybe it has got something to do with the weather?

Haynes, better known for automotive manuals, recently published a report about colour preferences around the world. They conclude that white is, by far, the global winner, with some regional variations. White scores fully 50% in China, 46% in Africa, and 41% in the Asia Pacific region. Way more than Europe at 29%.

Another striking difference is that the colour red is far more popular in the Americas than in Europe. Why? Because Americans are more outgoing and less shy to stand out in a crowd? According to a study conducted by Pew Research Center a few years ago, Americans tend to be more self-assured and more tolerant, so that may certainly be reflected in car showroom preferences too.

At the very bottom of the Haynes list, we find blue cars in China at a measly 1%, according to the same source. In other parts of the world, blue cars seem to be more appreciated.

But colour preferences change over time. Over the years they have been known to reflect the mood swings of bull and bear economies as well as fashion changes, in the clothing industry and more recently in the colour schemes of digital appliances


Does colour reflect personalities?

In the world of psychologists, the colour white is often talked about in terms of purity, innocence, calmness, and tidiness, while black reflects qualities or attitudes like prestige, power, and style. In the same way, silver tends to signal wealth and sophistication. This is particularly the case in Russia, India, and Latin America.

So, who do you want to be? Innocent, powerful, or sophisticated?  What colour did you choose the last time you ordered a new car?

For obvious reasons, the very names of the commercial colours offered to the prospective car buyers also aim at our senses. In 2017, the Dodge dealerships were offered a wide range of shades including Stout brown, White knuckle, and Destroyer grey to name a few. And in 2021 you can opt for a Fjord blue BMW or a Mojave Silver Metallic. Renault offers the irresistible combination Moonlight Silver With Mystery Black.

Colour and resale value

In a recent article in Autoweek, iSeeCars executive analyst Karl Brauer says:

“A vehicle’s colour is among the primary considerations after shoppers have decided on a make and model. With resale value being the single biggest factor in how much a new vehicle ‘costs’ over the course of ownership, consumers should carefully consider their colour choice.”

White, black, and silver are popular because they are seen as the safest colours with the widest appeal. Sometimes bright or unusual colours are an even better bet, but simple statistics can be deceiving. Says Tyson Jominy, vice president of Data and Analytics at J.D. Power:

“The danger is in relying on averages for an attribute like colour, that is not distributed normally across vehicles and segments. Essentially what you are comparing is an extremely small population of flashy colours against very large populations of grayscale colours… If car companies received a 25ppt better residual value for color, we’d all be driving flashy colored cars.”

In plain language: Maybe a bright yellow Ferrari will hold its value better than a dull grey Ferrari. But what about a VW, Volvo, or Toyota?

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