For Car Colors, White Is the New Black


Sure, the “color experts” at PPG Industries have their theories about why white has suddenly jumped to the top of global exterior-color preferences for cars after ten straight years of silver at the pinnacle. They surmise that it’s because white connotes cutting-edge, and that’s what we all want to be.

“Silver, at one time, was considered high-tech, innovative,” Jane Harrington, manager of color style and automotive coatings for the company that used to be known as Pittsburgh Plate Glass (and still provider of PPG Pittsburgh Paints), told the Detroit Free Press. “Think about white. What has Apple [introduced] their product in? White.”

Pardon us, Ms. Harrington, but haven’t Apple products before the iPhone 4 been available in white for many years?[more]

Isn’t it more likely that white is more popular with consumers worldwide because it is the color of hope and fresh starts? And isn’t that what the world needs more of right now (plus love, of course)? We don’t want to get all Lifetime-channelly here, because we are talking about vehicle paint, but …

And here’s more evidence. What color is white beating out? In North America, 20 percent of new vehicles are clad in white, bumping silver to second place at 19 percent. What has been vanquished to third place, at 18 percent?

Black — yes, that black. The color of woe (and profits, but that’s a different story.) Not only that, but gray, a really depressing color if ever there was one, has been pushed down to fourth place, at 15 percent of the North American new-car market.

Turns out that, according to PPG, 77 percent of vehicle buyers consider exterior color in their purchase, and 31 percent would be willing to pay extra for a color that expresses their personality.

Which brings us back to white, because typically there’s no up charge for a white automobile (unless you’re talking about Pearlescent Lilly or some other made-up quasi-white color). That might be another reason it has ticked up in popularity.

So, white is the new black. At least as far as cars are concerned.