How has the nation’s favourite car colour changed over the years?

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In January 2018, the SMMT reported that black has returned as being the UK’s favourite car colour with 515,970 new registrations in 2017 — taking a 20.3% market share, which is a 0.2% increase on 2016. Grey showed significant popularity too, taking second place with a 2.4% increase in market share, whilst white cars appeared to lose a 1.5% market share with just 482,099 new registrations.

How has the nation’s favourite car colour changed over time? Join us as we investigate:

The nation’s favourite car colour: 2017 v 2007 v 1997

Let’s begin by looking at the UK’s top five new car colours, according to the SMMT, and comparing them to the colours of all cars on the nation’s roads in 2007 and 1997:

Top 5 new car colours of 2017

Rank Colour Number of registrations Market share (%)
1 Black 515,970 20.3
2 Grey 500,714 19.7
3 White 482,099 19.0
4 Blue 405,758 16.0
5 Silver 254,192 10.0

 

Top 5 car colours of 2007

Rank Colour Number of cars Market share (%)
1 Blue 7,522,576 24
2 Silver 7,345,841 24
3 Red 4,497,237 14
4 Black 3,975,773 13
5 Green 2,948,959 9

 

Top 5 car colours of 1997

Rank Colour Number of cars Market share (%)
1 Red 6,733,640 26
2 Blue 6,284,838 25
3 White 3,561,778 14
4 Green 2,275,329 9
5 Silver 2,068,196 8

 

Insights

By looking at the three tables above, it seems clear that black has been steadily growing in popularity as the colour people opt for when it comes to their car for quite a few years now. In fact, the hue wasn’t even one of the top five colours of all cars on the UK’s roads in 1997.

As the SMMT highlighted when reporting on the top new car colours of 2017, the colour black wasn’t one of the top five tones until 1998. From that year until 2001, it was the fifth most popular colour for new car registrations, before leaping to become the third most popular hue from 2002-2005, the second most popular colour from 2006-2008 and finally the most popular tone from 2009-2012 and then again last year (it dipped to the number two spot again between 2013 and 2016).

Grey may be the colour to keep an eye on though, especially since the tone was the second most popular hue last year and yet wasn’t one of the top five colours of all cars to be found on UK roads either in 2007 or 1997. However, the SMMT did record that grey became the fifth most popular colour for new car registrations in 2003, before enjoying a stint as being the fourth most popular hue from 2004-2013 without interruption, the third most popular tone from 2014-2016 and now only behind black as the most popular colour. The popularity of the colour draws many similarities to how black rose to prominence across two decades.

One question that must also be asked when looking at the tables above is: what has happened to our love for the colour red when it comes to choosing a tone for our cars? The colour was the most popular hue for all cars on the UK’s roads in 1997 and yet didn’t make the top five new car colours of 2017. Instead, the tone had to settle for sixth place with 251,104 registrations and a 9.9% market share — it’s the first time red has been outside of the top five for new car registrations since 2012!

Of course, there will be some colours which will stand the test of time due to their association with certain car brands — even if their overall numbers do decline.

Despite speculating on the apparent decline of the colour red when Brits choose a car, for instance, many of us will instantly think of this hue when Ferrari is mentioned. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, though — Ferrari has stated that 85% of all Ferraris built during the early 1990s had been requested with red liveries.

Meanwhile, how many of you reading this piece would select a new Aston Martin in silver? This hue has long gone hand-in-hand with cars manufactured by this British car maker, thanks in part to the classic Aston Martin DB5 having a Silver Birch paintwork and being driven by the iconic fictional secret agent, James Bond, in many of his films.

Sources:

https://www.smmt.co.uk/2018/01/black-back-uks-favourite-new-car-colour/

https://www.smmt.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/Motor-Industry-Facts-2008.pdf

https://auto.ferrari.com/en_EN/news-events/news/more-than-just-red/