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This year white is the colour

Berlin, 01 January 2014

Black and silver lead the field – resale value is a factor for choosing a colour

The year 2013 once again confirmed the remarkable rise in popularity of white as the colour for new cars. In 2006 less than 2 per cent of all newly registered passenger cars in Germany were white, but since then the proportion has risen continually. In 2009 white was already being chosen for one in ten new cars, and by 2013 its share had climbed to one in six (17.9 per cent), according to the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), which has investigated the colour chosen for newly registered cars based on the latest figures from the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA).

In technical terms, the main task of a car’s paint finish is to protect the metal underneath from corrosion. However, for customers buying new cars, the colour is also always an expression of their own personality – and it is a reflection of the times. An estimation of the vehicle’s later re-sale value is also a factor for choosing a colour, along with trends in design that can be seen. For example, following the discussion on CO2 a few years ago more and more new models with low CO2 values appeared in white at trade fairs such as the IAA in Frankfurt and the International Geneva Motor Show. In fact, in the early 1990s the proportion of white new vehicles was still in double figures (13.8 per cent in 1991), before white went more and more out of fashion, becoming least popular in 2006 (1.6 per cent).

In 2013, black once again took first place among colours for cars (28.4 per cent of all new passenger car registrations), closely followed by silver/grey (27.9 per cent). It is noteworthy that in recent years the popularity of silver/grey, which used to be very dominant (46.4 per cent of all new registrations in 2004), has continually waned, while black broke through the 20 per cent mark for the first time in 2002 and reached its highest level to date in 2008 (31.3 per cent). Since then it has hovered around 30 per cent.

Surveys carried out by the market research company TNS Infratest indicate that three quarters of respondents believe the choice of colour affects a vehicle’s resale value. It turns out that nearly 75 per cent of all passenger cars registered new during the year 2013 were vehicles in “neutral” colours (black, silver/grey and white). By contrast, striking colours such as orange (0.5 per cent), mauve (0.6 per cent), green (1.0 per cent) and yellow (1.6 per cent) made up only a tiny fraction of the new car fleet in 2013 – although this has hardly changed for many years.

New cars in blue – accounting for up to 25 per cent in the 1990s and until the beginning of the last decade still clearly in second place behind silver/grey – have since then become less and less popular. In 2012 their share had slumped to only 8.2 per cent. The figure showed the first signs of recovery in the year 2013, reaching 8.5 per cent of new cars.

The colour red took a share of 6.3 per cent among all new passenger car registrations in 2013. Over the last ten years this proportion stayed between 4 and 7 per cent – the sole exception being the year of the environmental bonus (2009), when it climbed to 9.1 per cent. Two decades ago, however, red was the most popular colour for a car (28.4 per cent in 1991).

As the data from the KBA show, today red is a popular choice principally among women. In 2013 women ordered 11.1 per cent of their new cars in this colour, which is almost twice the figure on the market as a whole (6.3 per cent). Yet among the top three colours there are hardly any differences: women also most frequently order new cars in black (23.7 per cent), silver/grey (21.9 per cent) and white (20.1 per cent) – in total, two thirds of all new cars for female drivers are in these colours.

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