Skip to main content

Choice of car color reflects region, nationality

Posted: April 25, 2011 - 10:14PM
Author: Don Bain
A study of car color preferences performed by Ford revealed, despite the availability of bright, vibrant colors, U.S. customers on both coasts and buyers in most European countries prefer the core classic colors – white, black, silver and gray. Gray and silver are most popular in New York and Los Angeles. San Franciscans are partial to white and Bostonians prefer black.


Only one European country has a top color other than white, black or silver – a plurality in the modern Czech Republic pick blue.

"The trend continues to be toward core colors – the classics," said Susan Swek, Ford's group chief designer for Color and Materials. "We strive within Ford to achieve the best black, silver, white and gray. We're always working to make them even more appealing."

Paint, it would seem, is little different from clothing when it comes to color and style.

"The classics are continually upgraded – and always with a modern twist," she said. "In Europe, we've added tri-coat pearl technology to give gray-scale colors a glimmer and in North America we are creating more tinted clear coats for a rich, luscious effect."
A new color Ford refers to as Silver Diamond PC (for premium colorant), takes silver to the quicksilver level with an "elegant, liquidy look," explained color designer Jon Hall.

"We're generally paying more attention to fundamental colors," Hall said. "They are 60 percent of the global market. Cars and trucks are a major purchase and customers think of things like resale value and the fact that they want to be seen in the vehicle for the next few years."

Around the U.S., customers have varying regional preferences. Red is the hottest in the Midwest. Drivers in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh tend to green while sunbirds in Phoenix and Miami are drawn to warm colors like orange and gold.

Across the pond, tastes tend to be equally diverse. French and Italian motorists are fond of cream-colored vehicles, a reflection of their café societé, no? The Irish are as crazy for silver as leprechauns are for gold. Customers in Denmark adore black, while those in Belgium go gonzo for gray.

The color of a new auto is to some extent a projection of the owner’s sensibilities, lifestyle and personality.

"There is something very personal to buyers about the color of their cars," said Julie Francis, of the European Color and Materials team. "When you look at the culture, you can see how fashion and other tastes influence the colors customers choose."

Nearly 50 percent of all vehicles sold in Turkey are white. Black is the color of choice for most drivers in Norway, Portugal, Germany and Russia. Aside from Ireland, Romania, Finland, Poland and Sweden chose silver more often than not.

"Red used to be, far and away, the most popular color," said Vince Show, Marketing and Product Strategy manager for Ford of Europe. "White is in the ascendancy now. Dark grays, blacks and blues are popular, as they are in men or women's clothing."

"It's important to get the right color into the market at the right time," Swek said. "Too early, and it won't have registered on customers' radar. Too late, and the popularity of a particular color may have already reached its peak."

So if you’re moving to another part of the country or traveling abroad and plan to rent a car, the color of car you’re driving will contribute to how well you blend in or stand out – forewarned is forearmed.

These findings are from Ford's annual look at U.S. car buying preferences as well as an international color study by Du Pont.