What Color Will Your Next Car Be?

Remember the Sierra Gold Pontiac Firebirds of the ‘80s? Or the Plum Crazy Dodge Challengers from the ‘70s? Automotive colors come in trends, just like house paint and lipstick. It’s no accident, as automotive paint companies such as PPG and DuPont forecast color trends and push automakers to adopt what they hope will be popular colors.

Sure, wild colors like the Mojito! Lime green Jeep Wrangler catch your eye on the row at the dealership. But boring colors seem to sell better.

Going green

New data from the folks at PPG, paint manufacturers for the automotive world, suggests the hottest new color will be green.

While consumers often choose such conservative colors as white or black, green has historically been an incredibly popular choice, particularly in the ’90s, according to Jane Harrington, PPG global manager, color styling, automotive OEM coatings. “Beginning in 1999, consumer preferences shifted to more neutral options, shrinking green’s popularity each year. While green makes up a small percentage of the current overall color preferences for 2018, future trends in the automotive industry are reflecting the popularity of green in home décor and wall colors, furniture, consumer electronics and more,” she said.

While neutral hues such as white, gray, silver and black dominate globally, about 2% of SUVs in North America are green. The color had a bold presence at the 2018 North American International Auto Show, showing up on such difference vehicles as the Mercedes G-Class and iconic Ford Mustang Bullitt.

“Through PPG’s global color forecasting process, we noticed that complex neutrals and foliage-influenced greens continue to have a strong preference among consumers across various industries,” said Harrington. “We are seeking retreats that shield us from competing priorities and the always-on digital society around us. Consumers crave the calm and simplicity that is found in nature, and these preferences are impacting their color choices.”

Trends influence more than the exterior colors

“Today, car colors go beyond the body and can be represented in various areas – including the car’s interior, wheel coatings and more,” said Jennifer Solcz, PPG global segment manager for wheels, industrial coatings. “Wheel coatings are becoming a focal point of individualization for car buyers, many of which are drawn toward metallics, such as bronze and rose gold, as well as vibrant multi-faceted colors and matte finishes.”

How much do we value the color of our cars? A study by the Yankelovich Partners found 39% of consumers said they were likely to change brands if they couldn’t get the color they wanted.

Would you buy a car this color?

Remember when we talked about dull colors? The folks at CarMax looked at the colors of vehicles they sold over 12 months. More than half the cars were black, white, silver, or gray.

Black led with 22.25% of all sales. White came in second, with 19.34% of sales. Gray (17.63%) and silver (14.64%) were the third and fourth most popular colors.

But surely sports cars are red, right? Nope. Among cars, black was the most popular color, from two-door convertibles to four-door sedans. White was the most popular choice for trucks, minivans/vans, and wagons.

Outside of the top four colors, blue and red cars are by far the most popular of the remaining hues. In fact, more than half of the vehicles sold in this group were either blue (36.80%) or red (36.58%). Less-popular choices included brown (8.28%), gold (5.51%), green (5.15%), and tan (3.41%). If you really want to be able to find your car in a crowded parking lot, choose orange (2.13%), purple (1.22%), or yellow (0.90%).

Interestingly CarMax broke it down further, looking at which vehicles had the highest percentage of sales in a specific color.

Cadillac EscaladeBlack45.99%
Ford Transit ConnectWhite54.75%
Subaru WRXBlue32.51%
Mazda MX-5 MiataRed33.66%
Chevrolet CamaroYellow8.65%


What color is popular where you live?

CarMax looked at color trends based on geographic location. Here’s a look at the top five most popular car colors by state:

New HampshireBlack25.3%
Rhode IslandBlue23.6%

Sure, we like to think of ourselves as trendsetters, but when it comes to car colors, we tend to follow the crowd. What color will your next car be? Will you go for the green? Or settle for black, white, or silver?


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