March 2009
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Most Popular Vehicle Colors – 2000 to 2008

DuPont  releases data on vehicle color popularity for major markets across the world and in 2008 have included India data separately. I hope it will be tracked going forward as well.  Here is the DuPont report for 2008. Lots of interesting data point there including variants on core color types, finishing, textures etc. While mentioning the textures something very interesting is Chrome finish paint. An example is seen here.

They have been tracking such data for US, Europe and Japan for close to ten years now. Though they haven’t given it in one single chart – Zimbly Cars spent the time to collate it from data made public by DuPont.  Here is the trend for the past 8 years. 


**2001 – I wasn’t able to find data for this year on the net – if anyone has it or knows someone in DuPont please let me know.

The most popular colors over the past 8 years for cars are White, Silver, Black and Blue. These have been fairly consistent and have not lost their charm over time.


Red has been a consistent color with no changes in popularity since 2004. Grey has been steadily increasing in popularity since 2004 and may be a serious contender to Black.

Black though considered a timeless color went through a small dip in popularity between 2002 and 2005 but has been increasing in popularity since 2005.

The Indian Buyer chose to stay conservative in car color selection and mainly stuck to White and Silver for over half the vehicles purchased in 2008. (No wonder it is difficult to find white or silver cars in parking lots.)  The remainder was made up by the other colors as seen in this graph below.


Following are the trends for other major regions.


An interesting post I came across while researching this post was one talking about the meanings of colors in general and in meanings in various parts of the world:


I associate the following meanings with common vehicle colors in India:

Black: Aggression, closed, secretive (a lot of SUVs are in this color). Best suited for large vehicles – looks a bit out of place on small cars. One of the most difficult to maintain colors as scratches on black show up as white and look very bad. Dust and dirt dull the shine very quickly.

White: Purity, honesty, dishonesty, politics (most cars/SUVs owned by Politicos are in this color). It was a very popular color in the 80s and 90s and is making a comeback. A color that seems to suit most vehicles regardless of size. Fairly easy to maintain – but splashed with mud looks pretty bad. A color that seems to have a slightly negative association for certain models because of being typical cabbie vehicles. Examples include the Indica, Tavera, Sumo, Ambassador, Omni. Very few private buyers would buy these models in white – since they don’t want to be called cabbies by their friends.

Gold:  The metal that most Indians want to own and wear. There is a significant amount of gold/champagne colored vehicles. A color that I personally feel doesn’t suit many vehicles. Also an easy to maintain color.

Silver:  A very techie color (most vehicles owned by techies are in this color). A color considered very serious and classy – a very aspirational color. One of the easiest colors to maintain. I used to own two cars which were silver in color and both would still look good even if they were dirty. Manufacturers poor people are forced to sell cars in silver due to the demand. I remember in 2001 or 2002 Honda removed silver from their sales catalogue for the Civic in the USA because the previous year most Civics sold were in silver.

Green: Fertility, money, a color associated to religion.  Dark greens seems to be fairly well accepted but some bright greens do hurt peoples eyes. The parrot green Santro is the only example I can think of.

Blue: Water, Oceans, calmness. This color has a wide variety of tones available that make it appeal to a wide audience – but doesn’t have the same magnetism of a red or yellow. This color is a guaranteed color in most manufacturer color palettes year on year.

Yellow: Associated to being bright and sunny – but again a color that isn’t offered by many manufacturers. Maruti is probably the only one that dared to sell yellow cars. Looks good on smaller cars – I haven’t seen a yellow SUV till now – I hope I don’t have to.

Red:  Anger, speed. A color best suited for sports cars, sporty cars and hatchbacks. Red is to be avoided on large SUVS since they look like huge tomatoes. Mahindra and Tata sell their Scorpio and Safari in red and people still buy it! Some variant of red is usually available at almost each manufacturer.

Purple: Originally associated with royalty – now considered an offbeat color that has guaranteed very poor resale value of the vehicle since very few people like the color purple. Very minimal choice when it comes to buying cars in this color. I can think of only the Fords, Marutis coming in this color.

Earth/brown:  A very simple and bland color which is easy to maintain if it is “light brown”. Dark brown is a rare color which again isn’t very popular. Mostly sold by Hyundai and Mahindra. Some Tata vehicles as well.

What are my favourite colors ? So far I have owned 1 car in blue, 2 cars in silver and 1 in red. I hope my next car whenever I get one will be in black. I like the pearl white color as well and may seriously look at that as well.

What are your favourite colors for cars and what will be your next cars color ? Do let me know.

Updated April 3: Results of the Nano Poll so far:


Looks like there will be a lot of Re or Gold colored Nanos on the road as they seem to be the most popular colors so far.


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5 comments to Most Popular Vehicle Colors – 2000 to 2008

  • Danesh

    A very professional post, I am sure there will be lot of references to it from other sites.
    And LOL @ “Red is to be avoided on large SUVS since they look like huge tomatoes”.

  • Senthil

    Great post again Sushil.
    From a practical standpoint though, as far as Indian summers go – Silver and White could give you a slight advantage over darker colors such as Black – especially if you do not have an a/c.
    Also you may have noticed the way manufacturers usually offer their “premium” badges in better colors than the basic models. And they hire highly paid color consultants to decide the exact colors for each model.
    And then there is insurance – in the US your insurance premium changes based on your car color – so you would end up paying a higher premium if you had red car vs. silver or black.

  • Sushil

    Great observations Senthil – wish I had thought of them when I put up the post. I had wanted to mention but forgot to was that colder countries seem to prefer warmer tones while warmer places prefer lighter shades.

  • This is some really well conducted research.

  • […] Here is my older post with data from 2000-2008 from the DuPont studies. […]

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