Henry Ford famously said that “any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black”.
Today, the choice of car colours is almost infinite; it’s even possible to order a car to match the colour of your preferred nail polish. And, while the colour black remains popular in South Africa, it pales into insignificance when compared to the most popular colour choice for South Africans: white.
This finding has been gleaned from an analysis of cars sold on automotive digital marketplace, AutoTrader during the 2019 calendar year.
AutoTrader chief executive officer, George Mienie, said that white is by far the most popular car colour in this country.
“It accounts for more sales than the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth most popular car colours combined,” he said. And white was also the most popular colour globally during 2019, according to Axalta’s 2019 Annual Global Automotive Color Popularity Report.
White proved to be especially popular in Asia, Africa and South America last year. According to the Axalta Report, some 49% of cars sold in Asia during 2019 were white. In Africa and South America, 46% and 42% were white respectively.
Mienie said that white is popular for a variety of reasons. “It’s obviously better than a darker car colour in the heat, it retains its resale value and it’s also easy to repair,” he said.
In South Africa, silver was the second most popular colour in 2019, followed by grey, blue and red. “This is different to the global preferences, where black was the second most popular colour in 2019, followed by grey, silver and blue,” Mienie said.
In contrast to the global rankings, black was relegated to sixth spot in South Africa during 2019.
There are anomalies when comparing South African versus global buying patterns. “Green is fairly popular internationally, ranking number nine. And it doesn’t feature here in South Africa,” he said.
And what impact does colour have when it comes time to trade in your vehicle, and do these dominant colours have the best resale value?
According to Gumtree, most of us buy cars with the heart – we want a specific brand, body variant, engine and gearbox type, accessories and colour.
“In South Africa, white and silver are the easiest to resell – darker colours like black and navy blue being less so. Were we in Europe, the converse is true – darker colours are favoured over lighter ones.
“Hues of silver include grey, and the local trend is very much in line with that of other countries considered to have hot and sunny climes. It seems buyer preference revolves around white, silver/grey, black/blue, red, and then shades of yellow, brown and green.”
According to Cars.co.za, most cars depreciate at a rate of 15% – 20% per year, with depreciation the most severe in the first year of ownership – as high as 50% in some cases.
“Buy a car with neutral external colours such as black, white and silver. These colours will most likely still be popular in a couple of years and will therefore sell for more,” the car advertising website said.