New car buyers see in black and white, but should you?

New 2015 Vauxhall Corsa
Bold colours like the yellow on this 2015 Vauxhall Corsa are popular now, but for how long?

Guess what new car buyers’ three favourite colours are? White, black and grey — in that order.

This monochrome threesome accounted for 55% of new cars registered in 2014, according to figures released this week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The next most popular colours were red, blue and silver — each taking a 13% share — with all other colours accounting for just 6% of cars purchased.

As it turns out, white has been a top colour choice for several years now.

Demand for white cars saw exponential growth from 2008 to 2012, with the number of units registered growing from 1.1% in 2007 to 20.9% in 2012 (graph courtesy of SMMT):

SMMT white car registrations 1996-2014

What’s next?

Back in 2010, white cars accounted for 10% of new registrations while silver grabbed a 21% share of the market. Since then, silver has fallen back to 13% while white’s market share has more than doubled. For my money, white’s run at the top could soon come to an end — so what will be next?

If you’re trying to buy a new car in a colour that will be more popular in 3-5 years’ time, my advice is don’t. You’re unlikely to guess correctly.

However, there are a few clues in these new figures from the SMMT. One trend that’s readily identifiable and confirmed by the evidence of my own eyes is the falling popularity of metallic colours. Instead, bold, solid colours like red, orange and blue seem to be increasingly popular, often in new shades that haven’t been seen since the 1970s but which look very well on today’s cars, in my opinion.

Black remains a safe choice, too — in 2010, black accounted for 25% of new cars and was the most popular colour choice. Today, it’s slipped back to second, but still accounts for 19% of new cars purchased — equating to nearly half a million new cars painted black in 2014.

Personally, I’d say that the best approach is to steer clear of anything too wacky and outlandish — play it safe with red, white black, blue or grey, and you are unlikely to go too far wrong.

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