The share of ‘boring’ vehicle colors is rising

Odds are good that the color of vehicle you’re driving is a safe choice. Grayscale colors — black, white, silver or gray — are the most popular sellers.

And increasingly so.

“We’ve seen grayscale grow from roughly 60% of the market 20 years ago to 80%,” said Karl Brauer at “Eighty-percent of new cars being purchased right now are part of these grayscale colors.”

Silver is the most frequently purchased color of vehicle, now accounting for 19% of sales, estimates iSeeCars, which analyzed colors of more than 20 million vehicle sales.

Consumers tend to buy grayscale color vehicles not necessarily because they like them, but because they think it’s a safe choice when it comes time to trade in or sell.

“People are assuming those are the popular colors, and so they are buying them because they assume when it is time to sell, they buy these grayscale colors, thinking this will easily sell again,” Brauer said,

One grayscale color that has surged in popularity is gray. But more often, a particular kind of gray.

“Gray has completely shot through the roof in terms of popularity over the past 20 years. It is up by 82%, particularly this nonmetallic gray. It is kind of a ceramic or chalk look in some of the colors you see,” Brauer said.

Blue, red and green round out the top seven colors for new vehicle sales. Ironically, consumers buy safer grayscale vehicles thinking that is what other consumers prefer, when in fact they aren’t necessarily the best for resale value.

Because bold colors are more rare — since fewer consumers buy them — they tend to hold value better, at least based solely on color. For used vehicle buyers who want a bold color, there are fewer on the resale market, meaning they retain resale value. The color with the highest resale value is yellow.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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