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White, black are most popular car colors worldwide in 2012

Annual auto-paint survey finds that white gained, while black and silver slipped in popularity.

By Douglas Newcomb Dec 6, 2012 12:01PM

Want to know the most popular car colors worldwide? The answer is pretty much black and white, or rather, white and black, according to the 2012 DuPont Automotive Color Popularity Report released today.

In its 60th year, the report is the largest and longest-running of its kind, and the only one that analyzes vehicle colors around the globe and ranks them in popularity in 11 leading regions.

In 2012, white was the top automotive paint color around the world for the second year in a row, and black passed silver to earn second place. This is “largely due to the increased popularity in the Asia-Pacific market, as [black] has a worldwide perception of high quality and luxury,” the report said. It added that silver slipped to third “as its popularity has waned due to its overall gradual decline, especially in the critical large automotive markets of Europe and Asia."

White was the top color in Europe, North America (U.S. and Canada), Japan, South Korea, Russia, South Africa and Mexico in 2012. Overall, white makes up 23 percent of the global market, according to the report. DuPont also noted that white has been popular across all vehicle segments over the past 10 years, although historically it’s been most popular among truck owners. The report also points out that advancements in pearlescent whites have allowed the color “to initially break into the luxury segments.”

While black ranked second globally, with 21 percent of the world’s share of automotive colors, it was the leading vehicle color in China. Silver was the top color in South America, Brazil and India but fell four percentage points to 18 percent of the overall global automotive market, to make it No. 3.

“Silver peaked during the start of the digital age between 2000 and 2006,” Nancy Lockhart, DuPont color marketing manager, said in a statement. “We’re seeing more luxury vehicle purchases now that the economy has started to stabilize, and vehicles painted black/black effect are seen as luxury status symbols in several key global markets.”

But it’s not all black and white (and silver). Red, gray and brown/beige each increased a percentage point since last year’s report, while blue maintained its market share. Here’s how all  hues in the global automotive color spectrum stacked up this year.

According to the DuPont report, the top global vehicle colors are:

1.         White/White Pearl – 23 percent
2.         Black/Black Effect – 21 percent
3.         Silver – 18 percent
4.         Gray – 14 percent
5.         Red – 8 percent
6.         Blue – 6 percent
7.         Brown/Beige – 6 percent
8.         Green – 1 percent
9.         Yellow/Gold – 1 percent
10.       Others – 2 percent

In 2012, North American vehicle color was again dominated by white, with 24 percent market share, claiming the top spot for the sixth year in a row. It was the top choice in the  truck/SUV segment. Black ranked first in popularity in the medium crossover and luxury segments, representing 19 percent of the overall market and securing second place in vehicle color popularity in North America. Solid blacks were preferred in the truck segment, while metallic blacks gained in all segments, particularly with luxury cars and SUVs.

In Europe, white beat out black as the most popular vehicle hue in 2012, with 24 percent of the overall European market. According to DuPont, black has been on the decline in popularity in Europe since peaking in 2009, slipping to second place overall with 23 percent of the market. But, as with Europeans’ color preference in clothes, black has held on to its top status in the luxury categories there.

White also outpaced silver to take to take the top spot in the Asia-Pacific region this year, with 22 percent market share in the region. Black and gray, at 21 and 20 percent respectively, also gained on silver, which dropped to fourth overall, with just 14 percent of market share. Red rounds out the top five colors in the region, with 7 percent of the overall market in 2012.

In Russia, white (18 percent), silver (15 percent) and black (14 percent) were one, two and three in color preferences. But DuPont reports that more vibrant colors such as red, which almost edged out black for third place with 13 percent of market share, are adding color to Russian roads. Blue was also close behind, at 12 percent, while green earned the highest ranking in the world in the Russian market, with 8 percent.

[Source: DuPont]

Dec 6, 2012 12:47PM
The two reasons that white is the most popular are because most fleet sales are white and white hides the most flaws in your paint. While darker colors may look classier, the darker the color the more obvious that every single scratch becomes. This allows white vehicles to look sharper and cleaner for longer periods of time.
Dec 7, 2012 9:21AM
Oh sure, put yellow and gold in the same category but not gray and silver??  Good job people, way to cook the numbers!  Had gray and silver been combined into the same category, it would have made it the top global vehicle color at 32%.   
Dec 7, 2012 8:18AM
I like the color white better on cars for the fact they don't get swirl marks in the paint quite as easily as black tends to do. It also keeps your car cooler in the summer time instead of a black paint car where it becomes ungodly hot in the heat. White is also much easier to keep clean
Dec 7, 2012 8:54AM
Dec 7, 2012 8:43AM
White is also very popular because it makes a smaller car look bigger.  White is also more visible on the the twilight hours, the dark colors hide the vehicles when against a dark background and of course it is also true at night.  Safety is a prime considerations for me in choosing color.  Black looks great, but tends to contribute to slealthiness which contributes to accidents.
Dec 7, 2012 9:38AM
As long as everything works well - smoothe ride - reliable and smells good - get me from point A-B without issues who cares , I don't Live In It !
Dec 7, 2012 8:41AM
White and black probably make the most sense because unless they are a metallic or pearl paint, they are the easiest colors to match when a repair is done.  Also, white cars make sense in hot climates, and black cars make sense in cold climates, depending on if a person wants the car to repel or absorb heat from the sun.  I like black, but it is hotter than heck in the summer sun, and seems dirty all the time.  White just looks like a rental or company car to me.
Dec 7, 2012 8:29AM
White is probably the cheapest paint and is used most often in fleet vehicles because of that reason.  An earlier comment is also true that the flaws of a white vehicle are hidden better, except for RUST.  I own gold cars because that just happens to be the color of the used cars I bought.  I really don't care what color it is (except like......PINK) as long a the car runs well and is a good value.  I don't know why anybody else would care either.
Dec 7, 2012 9:25AM
White is boring for me, plus it will be one of the first colors to show up rust spots, bugs and tar!
Dec 7, 2012 10:07AM
much rather have a green or red or blue...
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