The most and least popular car colors

White is still the most popular paint finish chosen by new-car buyers, PPG’s annual automotive color popularity report confirms, capturing 35% of shoppers worldwide — more than blue, green, gold, beige and red tones combined. Grey, silver and black all slot in above any real colors, all but guaranteeing a dreary spread at just about any car dealer worldwide. 

It takes nothing more than a glance at a busy parking lot or a quick scroll through a handful of online car configurators to see which colors are the most popular for new cars. For those who relish the full spectrum of the rainbow, it’s dire. And what you see in the real world is reflected in PPG’s annual global popularity report, which was recently updated to include sales data from 2021. Here’s a snapshot:

While there’s not much good news here, some interesting options are actually rebounding in popularity. Two-tone, for instance, is making a comeback after waning in the early aughts. While “interesting” isn’t always synonymous with “good,” we’ll take some variation over the monotonous grays that have come to dominate modern automotive color palettes. The rise of two-tones finishes reflects a consumers’ desire for personalization, PPG’s report says, and “considerable” progress in color science and application technologies help make these unique treatments more accessible.

“It’s fitting that two-tones finishes would come back into favor during this time when we as a society are looking to the past,” said Misty Yeomans, PPG color styling manager, automotive OEM, Americas. “Along with special-order colors, tinted clearcoats, tri-coats and matte finishes, two-tone finishes better reflect vehicle owners’ individual preferences and personalities.”

Blue also seems to be holding steady in popularity, however many blues available today lean heavily toward slate, meaning they’re really more gray than blue, but hey, it’s better than nothing. Green also hinted at a comeback, but we fear for that trend, as several models that were offered in green in recent model years have since dropped the option

Pleasantly, North America seems to be more colorful than the rest of the world. With the exception of “natural” colors (browns, beiges, golds, etc.), North Americans were more likely to opt for colorful finishes than shoppers in South America, Asia or Europe, where white has an even larger share of the market. Sadly, though, the obvious trends cannot be ignored. While the popularity of black appears to have plateaued, gray and white continue to tick upward. 

Looking at various segments, sport and compact cars continue to be optioned in real colors more often than other cars and trucks. Red, blue and orange especially claim much larger portions of those categories than others. American midsize sedan buyers remain fond of blue, and brown appears to be maintaining popularity among sports car buyers. Sounds like all we need is a manual McLaren station wagon. Get on it, product planners. 

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