Why are most (company) cars white?
Many cars sold worldwide over the past decade were white, and even today, the number of white cars in traffic is impressive. But why? Is it a question of fashion? Or is it a technology-related trend? Let’s try to find some explanations.
According to figures from BASF, the largest chemical multinational globally, last year, the virginal color was the most common car color all over the world. In the last ten years, it even succeeded in grabbing an increasingly growing share of the market of black and grey cars. White seems to be the favorite car color worldwide: 40% of drivers adore white, 17% prefer black, 13% opt for grey, and 8% go for silver.
White might be popular in Europe (28%). In Asia, however, they’re wild (almost 50%) about this achromatic shade of color. White emphasizes design and volume and offers extreme freedom of creation. Europeans rather prefer… fifty shades of grey. They consider it ‘safer’ for a car.
Remarkable is that the popularity of white cars has even increased since the venue of electrified vehicles. And the reason why is obvious. Hybrid and electric cars are expensive, and they’re either company cars (or private cars bought by those who don’t feel like paying a surplus for metallic lacquer).
Anyway, companies play it safe. “They don’t want to take the risk of not being able to resell the car easily,” explains BASF’s spokesperson Thierry Leclerc in newspaper Le Figaro.
And there are more explanations for the popularity of the virginal shade. “White stands for purity and decency,” says Benoît Morin, responsible for Peugeot’s colors and materials. “It also helps in reducing energy consumption. Compared to a dark or colorful car body, a white one reflects the light and doesn’t absorb warmth.”
Car manufacturers also soak up the atmosphere in the surrounding world. In the world of interior decoration and contemporary design, white has always been an evident choice for obvious reasons: the color seems to enlarge and brighten the room, and it simplifies the space’s perception. “So, in a way, the automotive world reflects the world we live in and the objects we daily use,” continues Morin.
Symbol of sophistication
The success of highly technological products like our smartphones, for instance, shows that we’re looking for a balance between technology and sophistication, on the one hand, and softness, on the other. And that is precisely why the color white is perfectly in tune with the spirits of the times. While it used to be a symbol of purity and serenity, today, the colorless color is the incarnation of sophistication.
And what about the real colors? Will they remain in disuse? Most car manufacturers are cautiously experimenting with colors again, with a limited range of colors but with a resolute desire to make their models go wild again – definitely a real challenge.
Depending on new technologies and local taste, we might be overwhelmed by fascinating colors: special paints with injected polarizing pigments favoring dichroïsm. However, the autonomous car’s venue might curb people’s enthusiasm for these ‘special effect’ body paints because BASF already warns that sensors and Lidar radar, used for communication between cars, infrastructure, and other road users, will not be compatible with certain colors.