Sometimes it seems ever car you see is grey (or ‘silver’, if you’re posh; ‘charcoal’ if you live in the Home Counties; or ‘pearl’ if you work in advertising).
I’ve even got as far as cursing my key fob for failing to open the doors, only to realise it’s not actually my Golf I’m trying to get into (that was at Milton Keynes railway station, so it’s probably on film somewhere). But all this could be about to change. Thanks to a surge in popularity in recent years, white is the UK’s favourite colour for people buying new cars.
Of the 2,476,435 new cars registered in 2014, 22.2% were white, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). This is the biggest percentage since records began, and it’s the second year running that white cars have topped the popularity polls. In second place were black cars with 19% of the total market, followed by grey in third at 14% (so they’ll be with us for a few years yet). Blue, red and silver cars each accounted for 13% of new car registrations.
So what’s changed? White cars used to sit on the forecourts for days, weeks, even months, prompting car dealers to come up with the term ‘60-day white’. In fact, white cars accounted for less than 1% of new car purchases a mere decade ago. There are various explanations for the recent boom in white car sales. Some put it down to the release of aspirational models in white, such as the Audi TT and the BMW M3. Then there’s the change in car design from fussy details to sleek lines, which look good in white.
Hot and cool
Of course, white cars will always sell well in the hotter climates of the Middle East, but let’s not forget the ‘Apple effect’. Apple products are the ultimate in cool design and could also explain the popularity of the colour white. It’s not all about looking good. White has other advantages, too. Contrary to popular opinion, white cars don’t show up the dirt any more than the next colour. They are also easy to clean, or at least it’s easy to make a white car look clean.
Then there’s the safety aspect. It turns out that black cars are more likely to be involved in an accident than cars of any other colour – almost 50% more likely according to some studies. White cars, on the other hand, are one of the safest shades. They also hold their value well. CAP, the valuation experts, reckon white cars hold about 5% more of their value than the typical used car, which is handy if you want to sell the car on. It’s all very well and good – and the record-breaking statistics speak for themselves. But I’m not convinced. Isn’t driving around in a white car a bit like driving around in a fridge or washing machine? Or maybe I’m just not cool.