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Where Has All the Color Gone?

To most this will be considered a rant, but to me it is a cry out to all in the industry. Stop the mediocrity!

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Many of you know I am a dyed-in-the-wool car guy. Not afraid of admitting it and not afraid to say it. Why? Because cars are a part of our heritage here in America and one of the things that sets us apart from many other places in the world. We are a personal transportation society and have more than 300 million vehicles on the road to prove it.

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To most this will be considered a rant, but to me it is a cry out to all in the industry. Stop the mediocrity!

Recently, Axalta released its Yearly Global Color Popularity Report. This is the 69th year for this report and it is not showing any interesting trends for me. Around the world, White cars make up 35% of the year’s production. Right behind white and in a dead tie at 19% are black and gray. Bringing up the tail end of the large groups is silver at 9%. If you are keeping a running total, that’s 82% of the vehicles are either black, white silver or gray. 

We are a personal transportation society and have more than 300 million vehicles on the road to prove it.

In the past few years blue has made a comeback and is ringing in at 8%. Red, brown, green, orange and other makes up the scraps. I talk to people all the time and they say they just got a new vehicle. That always makes me very happy, so I enthusiastically respond with, what color did you get? Eighty-two percent of the time I am sorely disappointed. What has happened to our individuality? Do we really all want to be the same? My previous employer had a philosophy in their early years that you could have any color you wanted, as long as it was black. Luckily, they only used that for a while and then used colors to enhance the vehicle appearance.

The 50s gave us turquoise, yellow, green and even pink. All available in two-tone versions with white or black. The 70s gave us really fun colors like Grabber Blue, Sassafras, Plumb Crazy and others. These were great marketing colors. They led the buyer to imagine buying a standout ride and driving down the roads in it. The lines of the cars were distinctive also. The brands and models all had unique styling cues. There are a very few of them left, but they are still there today on a very small group of vehicles.

Vehicle manufacturers will tell you they are just giving the public what they want. In previous years, manufacturers followed the fashion trends to get a good idea of which colors would be trending. These colors were then added as options for vehicles as trends indicated shifts. With the kind of numbers above, I find it hard to believe that practice is being followed. If it is, shame on all of us. We have become complacent and boring. The majority of vehicles today are sold from dealer inventory (excluding pandemic shifts). So, people are just buying what they see. It is much more cost-effective for manufacturers to limit color choices and options on vehicles. It cuts down inventory numbers and makes the assembly process more streamlined. So, four colors all in the same hues making up 82% of the mix is a very good thing for them.

Scott’s Plum Crazy ride

My point in all of this is that I am not convinced we all want to look the same and wear the same colors. Individuality is what makes us diverse. I just turned in my Plum Crazy ride for a red one. If I could have gotten a bright yellow one, I would be driving it. No, I don’t drive an SUV or a crossover. Not sure if I ever will but if I ever choose one of today’s jellybean vehicles, you can bet it will be bright.

Happy motoring.

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