TROY, Michigan — White remains the most popular color choice for new cars, according to a survey by PPG Industries.
The automotive coatings manufacturer recently released data showing that, globally, white accounted for 28 percent of 2014 model-year vehicles, based on manufacturers' build figures. That's up from 25 percent last year and 22 percent in 2012.
Following white in worldwide popularity was black, which made up 18 percent of production. Tied for 3rd were silver and gray at 13 percent each. Silver, generally near the top of the list, appears to be on the decline, with a 7 percent drop over the past two years.
In North America, white vehicles made up 23 percent of vehicle sales in the 2014 model year, followed by black (18 percent), gray (16 percent) and silver (15 percent).
Of course, white takes on different hues — and names — depending on the automaker. The 2015 Ford Mustang can be ordered in "Oxford White," while the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray comes in "Arctic White." The 2015 Toyota Camry is offered in "Super White."
Natural colors — shades of gold, beige, yellow, orange and brown — made up 10 percent of North American vehicle production, with brown gaining in popularity, especially among midsize models and SUVs. For example, the 2015 Nissan Murano is offered in a coffee-colored "Java Metallic," along with an orangey "Pacific Sunset" shade.
Not surprisingly, buyers of sport models in North America tended to go for more vibrant colors, like red, blue and green. And these consumers don't seem to mind paying extra for an eye-popping shade. For instance, "Carmine Red" is a $3,140 option on the 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS.
The survey said 24 percent of those opting for luxury vehicles chose the more sedate white. Luxury models were also most likely to sport what PPG calls "effect" finishes, such as metallics or pearls. The 2015 Audi A8 is offered in several metallic and pearl exterior finishes, including "Phantom Black Pearl" and "Oolong Gray Metallic."
In the near future, PPG says to watch for a continued increase in the natural hues, like coppers, oranges and browns, with metals tones — bronze, pewter and rose gold — possibly making some inroads. We will likely also find new models showing off deeper, richer versions of reds, blues and yellows.
Said Jane E. Harrington, PPG's manager of color styling, automotive OEM coatings, in a statement: "Today, automotive manufacturers can choose from a broad array of colors as well as a wide assortment of variations of conservative hues such as white, silver, black and gray, and distinct effects such as micas, glass flakes, fine bright aluminum and hue-shifting pigments."
Looking ahead to the 2017-'18 models, PPG says it has sent 63 exterior colors to automakers for their consideration.
The future color selections fall into four palettes: Good Life, a group of natural hues, which includes earth tones, golden yellows, browns and greens; I'm Pulse, a collection of bright colors, opaque pastels and "urban neutrals" which takes inspiration from social media and other modern trends; Co-Leidoscope, spicy reds, gemstone greens, plum and indigo blues, which PPG says create a bohemian flair; and Introsense, a quieter group that includes pale-washed blues, greens, corals and purples, as well as light neutrals.
PPG works with a panel of global experts to analyze international markets and forecast color trends for the architectural, industrial, aerospace and consumer-products markets. Its findings and predictions are published in the annual PPG Global Color and Design Trends report.
Edmunds says: Although PPG offers a staggering variety of colors to automakers, it seems that car shoppers tend to prefer the classics.