Automotive Color Popularity Data: White Still Top Choice

Ever wondered why so many green cars seen on the roads around you are either silver or white?

Yesterday PPG Industries released its annual automotive color popularity and trend data, and these results will help you understand the color choices customers are faced with when buying a car.

While white retained the leading spot as the most popular car color based on 2012 automotive build data, PPG forecasts that the overall use of color is on the rise.

According to PPG’s annual survey of global color popularity, white ranked first (22 percent) and silver was second (20 percent), followed by black (19 percent), gray (12 percent), red (9 percent), natural (8 percent), blue (7 percent), green (2 percent) and other colors (1 percent).

“Color is one of the first characteristics noticed in product design, and it is increasingly being used in everyday items, from cell phones to large appliances, based largely on automotive trends,” said Jane E. Harrington, PPG manager, color styling, automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer) coatings. “The palette being developed for the automotive segment continues to be influenced by culture, nature, fashion, interior design, color popularity and new pigment technology.”

With this in mind, PPG is developing new shades to appear on 2015-2016 model year designs. These included colors such as: Al Fresco, a silver metallic with fresh green tint; Victoria Grey, a classic grey with an iridescent highlight of gold metal; Opulence, a refined red pearl with intense jewel tone; Glacier, an icy graphite grey with a slight violet blue tone; Sunshine, a bright high-sparkle intense yellow; and Elixir, a metallic mixture of silver and magenta.

“Our consumer research has clearly shown that color is critically important to car buyers,” Harrington said.

In addition to color trend forecasting, PPG continues to develop paint technologies that offer automotive design options for enhancing appearance and helping automobile manufacturers differentiate their brands, according to Harrington. “For example, metallic flake effects have become increasingly popular. A classic color such as blue can be updated with a high-sparkle glass flake or a fine bright aluminum to create more of a liquid or silk appearance,” she said.

Regional details regarding PPG’s 2012 automotive color popularity data

In North America, white ranks first (21 percent), followed by black (19 percent), silver and gray (16 percent each), red (10 percent), blue (8 percent), natural (7 percent) and green (3 percent).

In Europe, white is also most popular (23 percent), followed by black (21 percent), gray (17 percent), silver (13 percent), blue, natural and red (7 percent each), other colors (3 percent) and green (2 percent).

In the Asia Pacific region, silver and white tied for most popular (23 percent each), followed by black (19 percent), natural (10 percent), red (9 percent), gray (8 percent), blue (7 percent) and green (1 percent).

  • Gary

    I think that silver is best color for any car. I agree that it is very important. Nicer colors, better car sales.

  • nycsolar

    While I have mostly owned dark colored cars (two black, one dark blue), I was at a rental car company lot in Hawaii, when I put my hand on a gray Ford Mustang. I nearly burnt my hand. I then put my hand on a white one (both had been sitting out in the lot all day), and it was fairly cool to the touch. I would imagine that the dark colored car’s absorbtion of heat would factor into the need for air conditioning.

  • BigWu


    Having owned both silver and black cars in Texas, I definitely noticed a major difference. Berkeley Lab’s has published a study confirming your suspicion scientifically, and suggests that exterior color can change MPG by up to 2% due to air conditioning loads (i suspect far more than that in very hot climates and far lower up north).

    From the article in autobloggreen:
    “Researchers in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division have published a new study that suggests cooler-colored cars could be up to 2 percent more fuel efficient than darker-colored ones. Their research shows that cooler colors like white and silver can reflect as much as 60 percent of the sun’s rays, while darker colors like black only reflect around 5 percent. This means that after sitting in the sun for an hour, a silver car’s roof is a full 45°F cooler than a black car’s roof, which, according to the researchers, would equate to a 9 to 11°F difference in cabin air temperature.”

  • Van

    Over my years of buying new cars, the paint jobs have gotten better and better. No more orange peel enamel, now cars come off the showroom floor with “car show” quality paint jobs of the 1960’s. The AC unit certainly is aided with a light color, but with electric AC units able to be powered up while the car is plugged in, the gas mileage savings is offset to some degree.

    And white cars can be upgraded with the creamy metalic whites and light yellows of today. As a conservationist, I like the creamy light green of recent Jags.