A Look at Popular Car Colors for 2011

Henry Ford once said that when it came to his Model T, any color was available as long as it was black. He would be amazed and shocked at the color varieties car buyers can enjoy today. With inspiration drawn from the new interior design fashions, haute couture and throwbacks to past classics, there seems to be a color and style for every personality.

Some traditions will remain the same in 2011. Silver, the universally popular color will still hold first place globally. While black and grey are the other top two favorites in Europe, Russia overwhelmingly prefers silver and India loves white, white pearl and silver. Here in the United States, 20% of new car sales were white last year, 17% black and silver, 13% blue and 12% grey. Black is gaining in popularity as are purple and orange, although for different reasons. Emerging markets also have their favorites that will influence American manufacturers. In China, for example, pink or fuschia is the color of choice.

If you are wealthy enough to afford a $330,000 Bentley Mulsanne luxury sedan, you can choose from 100 exclusive shades or have a color customized to your particular preference. However, for the rest of the world, there is still an excellent and ever increasing selection. Almost half of the new 2011 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles will feature new paint colors with interesting names, many of which are based on delectable foods. Expect to see White Chocolate and Candy Apple Red cars on the lot as well as silver and bronze metallics and paler shades of green and blue.

Makers of the 2011 Camaro and Corvette are offering 10 color choices including the eight from 2010 and two new additions. Silver Ice Metallic, Victory Red, Inferno Orange Metallic, Red Jewel Tint and Rally Yellow suggest race-car speed, power and strength. Since there is such a strong emotional attachment to color choices, manufacturers know that the wrong color choice can kill a new design. In fact, 39% of serious shoppers will walk away from a dealership that does not have a vehicle in the color they want.

Because color is such a serious factor in consumer appeal, research is ongoing to tract changing trends. For example, red has traditionally been a very popular color, but recently it has declined in overall appeal. Green was a big hit in the mid-90s but gradually became less popular, especially in small cars. As proof, last year only 3% of the new car sales were green vehicles. The other equally unpopular colors were yellow/gold and beige/brown.

Americans have fallen in love with the paint color white because of the variety of pigments that can be added for a more personalized look. White also catches light easily and shows off the car’s features and nuances better. Earth-friendly consumers seem to be attracted to blue because it feels more “natural” to them.

Darker colors will still be popular for utility vehicles and black remains the color of luxury, high-end classic design cars. Even black can be offered in different shades, and the new blue/black or black/burgundy casts are expected to be appealing. Silver with added blue, bronze or copper tints will have a uniqueness of its own as well. Because darker browns, coppers and oranges are currently the design choice in restaurants, hotels and lobbies, customers are beginning to accept them. Brown, especially will be debuting as a luxury color.

While dark green may not be popular, little cars will be cheerfully wearing yellow/green and coppery orange paint jobs. It seems that 2011 will be all about color choices, and the car manufacturers are determined to present a full palette with something for everyone. The difficulty may actually lie in picking a favorite.