I was once told by the design, research and development team of a large car company that “80 per cent of our sales globally are cars finished in either white, light silvers or dark greys”.
It’s scary to think that we have even split the most regular hue of all time, grey, into two colours – light and dark – on our own savage quest for boredom.
What worried me more however, was the sheer delight on my interlocutor's face as they told me: “We make a lot of money charging for those colours in particular markets, too".
Now I know why they were smiling.
It confirmed my initial suspicion that we, as a car-buying civilisation, have almost reached the summit of boredom with regard to car ownership. Either that, or we no longer care about cars like we used to.
Clearly we were the problem. Not the people in charge of producing hues for cars. Initially.
Back in the 70s, car colours were interesting and diverse. Not only that, but brands of that era frequently added new colours, discontinued others, in an attempt to continually refresh the range of bright hues on offer to us, the car buying public.
Colours such as “Panama Green” and “Mint Julep” strike me as awfully fun and exciting.
So, what on earth happened?
The onset of the '80s and '90s did see things settle down a bit, with regard to colours. Car design also fundamentally changed at the same time. One could argue that simpler colours were used more in order for concepts, and their big, bold design statements, to do their thing, free from the distraction of a bright colour. This then filtered down to production cars, and the rest is history.
Other reasons could be the rise in lease and loan purchases, and cars more commonly becoming tools of a professional trade; therefore resale values and conservative colours go hand-in-hand in that circumstance.
I’m sure there’s not one single reason to why we made the shift to buying boring-coloured cars. Just call it culture, design, and the evolution of our society with our ever-changing relationship with cars.
Either way, it’s now 2020. And we’re still suffering from this blight.
The problem now is that car companies, with their clever use of business intelligence and other methodologies, have cottoned on to the fact that a huge portion of all new purchases have been in the unholy trinity of conservative colours – white, silver and dark greys.
So that point alone is inspiring nothing more than the offering and production of boring colours.
Why invest in changing the current colour paradigm if the data led you to believe that the take-up rate for those costly, bright colours, was slim. Furthermore, diversity costs money too, in many, many facets of the production and sale of automobiles.
I decided to check out the colour offerings of a few particular brands.
One particular Japanese SUV offers ten colours. Of that ten, five were shades, and of that five, three were variations of silver.
Another European hatch I checked out came in six colours. Four of them were the unholy trinity. The other two were not far off either, to be honest – quite boring, with a tiny dash of pigment. Consider them off-silver, with a touch of red or blue.
Lastly, I investigated another European car, this time a small SUV. Ten colours on offer – two whites, two blacks (I thought black was black?), two silvers, an equally uninspiring dark silvery brown, another dark blue that’s akin to gunmetal grey, and finally, two bright colours.
Two out of ten. The other eight choices were not too dissimilar from each other, either. Far from inspiring.
The bigger problem now however, is... how do we get out of this hole? We’ve sort of created a rod for our own back, in ways. If car brands are now conditioned to not offer fascinating colours, and remain conservative, how do we break the mould?
Well, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Even though the majority is still stuck in a snoozefest of whites and silvers, some brands are bringing back bright hues for all to consume.
And we must consume them, for two reasons.
First is to ensure that they’re retained, and even further developed. Second is to inspire other brands who are not doing this, to maybe do the same.
My advice to you is, if you’re buying a car and genuinely like a bright colour among its options, honour your inner desires.
Clearly your heart, or irrational side, is saying something to your conscious self. Make the heart-servicing decision. The more individuals that do, the more that will follow. Try not to worry about things like public perception, resale, and the like. Just be confident with your decision and I’m sure the rest will be OK.
I will conclude this opinion piece with two things.
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First, is a great Instagram account, dedicated to this revolution.
It’s called @MakeGreenGreatAgain, and it naturally, as the title suggests, it highlights interesting cars in various shades of green that were ordered by equally interesting individuals.
Think rare Ferraris, Porsches, BMWs, and the like. Consider it inspiration.
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Second, is a great selection of cars, in awesome colours, across a wide price spectrum, that you can buy today.
Volkswagen T-Cross - Makena Turquois.
Maserati Levante Trofeo - Giallo Modenese.
Porsche Cayenne Coupe - Lava Orange.
Do you own a cool coloured car, or have a favourite out there? Feel free to share them below in the comments section.