RAC Cars News


Favourite car paint colour in Britain is White

By raccars Published

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White was the most popular car paint colour last year, chosen by 20% of new car buyers. Why?

2015 was a record year for new car sales in the UK, with 2.6 million new cars bought, of which 564,393 were white. That's 21.4 per cent of the total, making white Britain's favourite new car paint colour for the third consecutive year, according to statistics compiled by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The Apple effect

White was also the favourite car colour in 2014 but demand was up by 2.2 per cent last year, showing a dramatic turnaround from just a decade ago, when white cars accounted for less than 1 per cent of all new car sales. Trend analysts have put forward the idea that the so-called 'Apple effect' is responsible for the rise in white car paint, as consumers choose to buy a car matching the trendiest and most impressive gadgets, thus aligning themselves with the premium quality image associated with the brand. Another explanation is that modern, angular car design is better flattered by white compared to earlier, softer car silhouettes. More prosaically, white car paint doesn't cost extra in the way that metallics and special colours do.

Familiarity breeds contempt

However car valuation experts at CAP have suggested that over saturation of certain car paint colours can have an impact upon residual values. There is concern that white will lose its premium connotations and become common, even though CAP reports in 2014 predicted that white was a good choice for strong residual values. Apparently the problem is likely to be model specific, with certain makes and models of car responding well to the white spec, but far less so with others.

A similar effect was seen a few years back when silver was the colour of the moment. When silver was more exclusive then residual values held, but an over proliferation of used cars in silver brought values in line with the rest of the colour spectrum.

The Ford Focus was the most popular target for white paint in 2015, with 14,103 milk white models sold. The Volkswagen Polo was the second favourite choice, with 13,701 selling in the colour, followed by the Fiat 500, with 12,871 units sold in white. Geographically white was less popular in the South East, where a contrary set of buyers made black the most popular car paint colour last year. Overall black was the UK's second favourite car paint colour last year at 19.4 per cent of the market, followed by grey at 15.6 per cent.

Our rainbow roads

Apart from these neutrals, buyers did show some bias towards brighter, more interesting shades, although once again geographically distributed. Mauve was the colour of choice for 12,414 new car buyers in 2015, particularly in the Channel Islands and the West Midlands, but yellow, orange and green also saw growth. The West Midlands was also a hotspot for orange, while green was a big seller in East Anglia, the North, Wales and the Channel Islands. Brown is still in the top ten, although it has lost some of its market share in the last year.

Blue also had a good year as the fourth most chosen colour, by one out of every six new car buyers. Blue is a previous national favourite car colour from the late Nineties, after which its popularity fell like a stone before perking up gradually over the last few years. Silver cars meanwhile, the top colour from 2000-2008, are now distinctly out of favour. While nearly a third of new cars sold in 2004 were silver, in 2015 it was only about 10 per cent.

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