Silly Car Question #16: Why are there so many white cars?

White is the dominant car paint colour all over the world, latest research shows.
PAUL OWEN/STUFF

White is the dominant car paint colour all over the world, latest research shows.

Ever wondered why every second car on our roads these days is painted white?

It's because every second car imported from Asia is white - literally. Latest research tells us that 48 per cent of all vehicles manufactured in Asia, particularly Japan, are painted white.

And since we in New Zealand annually import tens of thousands of new and used cars from Japan and other Asian countries, then we have an unusually high percentage of white cars too.

Black remains popular - in North America it runs a close second to white.
Rob Maetzig/STUFF

Black remains popular - in North America it runs a close second to white.

Statistics gathered by Axalta Coating Sytems, a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, showed that worldwide 37 per cent of all new vehicles built during 2016 were painted white, which was up two percentage points on 2015. That percentage is made up of 28 per cent solid white and 9 per cent pearl white, by the way.

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Silver used to be the world's most popular car colour, and it is still the hue of choice for many.
Rob Maetzig/Stuff

Silver used to be the world's most popular car colour, and it is still the hue of choice for many.

Black was the second most popular colour at 18 per cent, comprising 3 per cent solid black and 15 per cent "effect" black. Silver retained third place at 11 per cent despite losing some popularity, while grey enjoyed a gradual climb in its popularity and reached 11 per cent. Then there were red, blue and yellow/gold which all had a 6 per cent share.

This research also shows that North America is the most popular region for red (10 per cent), Russia and Europe prefer blue (each at 9 per cent), while yellow and gold is most popular in Asia (4 per cent).

For the past 64 years Axalta has presented what it calls the Automotive Colour Popularity Report, which looks at vehicle colour popularity both globally and regionally.

All this leads to the next obvious question: why are all these cars painted white?

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It may be because that's what the manufacturers want. According to research conducted by another global paint supplier, PPG Industries, although nearly 60 per cent of consumers identify colour as a major factor in their vehicle-buying decisions, the car makers themselves continue to sell a vast majority of cars (nearly 75 per cent) in the conservative colours such as white, black, gray and silver.

Next question: Why do we buy all these white cars?

One answer might be that we think they are safer. It's true, too - recent research by Australia's Monash University showed that cars painted black have a 12 per cent higher risk of being involved in an accident than cars painted white, followed by grey (11 per cent higher risk), silver (10 per cent), and blue and red (both 7 per cent).

The research also showed that at dawn and dusk black vehicles have a 47 per cent higher crash risk than white ones.

However some nay-sayers (who probably don't own white cars) suggest that because white cars are so very common, they don't stand out as much as we think they do.

So we've all got to continue to drive safely folks, no matter what the colour of our cars.

 - Stuff

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