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Author Topic: Do you see more grey cars? Are the manufactures trying to cut cost?  (Read 1146 times)

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Offline theking

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The reason all cars are now grey – and why we need to get used to it
There’s a proliferation of grey cars on the roads – is grey paint cheaper, does it not show dirt, or is it a reflection of our moods?



My father knew what he was doing when he freshened up the family Ford Cortina in 1975. He was a trained painter and decorator and he transformed our car from a silvery blue to a solid azure. It looked fresh, as if it had rolled straight out of the shop. A couple of years later, he swapped it for a Morris Marina, in burgundy. Now that’s a colour you rarely see on the road these days – and wherever you stand on burgundy cars, they are more interesting than the grey cars that dominate our roads.

A quarter (25.7 per cent) of the new cars bought in the UK last year were grey, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The next most popular colours were equally unexciting: black (20.1 per cent) and white (16.7 per cent). These three colours, along with silver, account for more than 80 per cent of cars sold globally.

Readers of The Telegraph have noticed and have been steadily writing letters since February wondering why – is grey paint cheaper, does it not show dirt, or is it a reflection of our grey moods?

Of course, the raw statistics don’t tell the whole story. Yes, they reflect the mass market trend of the past couple of decades for more neutral colours, but scratch the surface (something you should obviously never do with an actual car’s paintwork) and there’s a lot more going on in the world of automotive colour.

Carmakers now spend a lot of time and resources deciding which colours to offer their cars in. They employ colour specialists in their design departments, whose job it is to think about how consumers feel about colour. According to Ivana Hrudkova, a creative expert for colour, material and finish at Hyundai: “It’s not only about the colours: it’s also about the psychological approach, what the colour means. It’s the deep thinking behind the choice.”

But manufacturers also have to be practical. The first cars were painted like carriages, in a few different colours but the paint was expensive and didn’t last. The first Ford was made available, in 1908, in red and grey, but Henry Ford quickly realised that black was far cheaper and more durable, which is when he made his famous comment that “you can have it in any colour as long as it is black”.

Developments in paint were a game-changer. By the 1950s more was possible, with pastel-coloured cars becoming popular. Black didn’t come back until the late 1970s, when Porsche introduced the 930 Turbo in black and dark green. Metallic paint had been expensive as it was made from fish scales but in the 1980s, scientific innovations made it more mainstream. More recently, grey dominated from 2001 until 2009, black had a brief moment at the top from 2010-2013, then it was white and now we have gone back to grey.

And what we see on the roads is at odds with marketing. Next time you see a car advert on TV, take note of the colour: it probably won’t be grey.

As Tanja Renkes, mobility technology manager at Axalta, which supplies paint to car makers, says: “Every car manufacturer wants a specific, special colour. Most customers won’t go for it, but it demonstrates that there is a modern colour in the palette. It won’t be the best-selling colour, but it will be used for marketing, showing that they understand trends.” The one that comes to mind from my career in automotive journalism is the Mk6 Ford Fiesta from 2008, launched with a dark magenta (not quite a 1970s Morris Marina burgundy, but close). Never saw one on the road in that colour.

It comes down to cash. The colour of your car is a commitment. We all regularly make colour choices for other purchases, from clothing to kitchen utensils. But a new jumper, might only be worn for 10 to 15 weeks. A new car can be on the road for 10 to 15 years, which is reflected in the fact that car makers always offer the neutral colours in a model’s colour palette.

This explains the rise of grey. Risk-averse consumers, in straitened times, worry about a bright colour driving down the resale value of their car, which means higher monthly leasing payments (lease payments pay off the car’s depreciation in the first few years: the lower the resale value, the more customers have to pay). Another is that it’s a great contrast with the black wheels and trim details that are now offered by car makers. It’s also a shift away from black and white, while still remaining a safer, more conservative ‘achromatic’ colour.

So when a car in a standout colour such as yellow goes on the used market, it usually commands a price that is 6-8 per cent less than a black, white or grey. That difference is paid by the person who originally leased the car (and chose the colour), with higher monthly fees. In short, colour costs.

The people who decide what colour your car is, all cited nature as a big influence in their decision. Komal Singh, senior designer, colour and material at Volvo’s EV sister brand, Polestar, says our visual tastes are being “influenced by an awareness of the climate”. That means stone and granite colours are popular.

Francesca Sangalli, head of colour and trim at Spanish brand Cupra, says: “We try to take the beauty of what we see around us, for example, by using a lot of matte colour to make the body’s surface look stony, giving it more character.”

When deciding on a colour palette for a new model, size matters, too. More premium or luxury models on the roads are more likely to be conservative, neutral colours. Renkes says: “These colours are seen as exquisite and long-lasting. For example, when you have a piano at home, it’s black because it exudes a certain kind of exquisite luxury. That’s why we still see black and white considered luxurious, which is why you also see larger limousines and SUVs more in those colours.

“But trends differ depending on the kind of car you have. You will see different colours on a small car than on a limousine or SUV. We’re also seeing that customers are looking for certain colours with EVs now.” Blue reflects the colour most of us have in mind when we think of electricity, so car makers have seized on that for many of the EVs being launched.

Some colours have been unfairly associated with certain types – yellow cars, for example, are thought of as dangerous but actually this is because sports car owners are more likely to speed and those cars are often yellow.

It’s also worth remembering that younger buyers are often the ones buying smaller, more affordable cars. These younger consumers are more likely to want a car in a vibrant colour. Green was the most popular colour for the Mini in 2022, for example, while Peugeot 208 owners favour yellow more than any other colour.

The cars we drive in 2023 come from all over the world (which is why British Racing Green is no longer a thing), so we also see colours influenced by the culture that the car brands emerge from. Hyundai’s design team, for example, looks to its Korean roots for influence. “Korean culture and its heritage has a really rich history. You can see a lot of softness and the uniqueness of its craft heritage, Buddhism and the spirit of resilience combined with creative innovation,” Hrudkova explains. When you consider the traditional Korean five-colour spectrum – called Obangsaek, consisting of black and white, plus blue, red and yellow – it’s not a surprise to see lots of Hyundais in reds and blues, while yellow also frequently features in sister brand Kia’s colour palette.

It’s a similar story with Polestar and its Swedish roots. Singh says: “As a brand, we are very minimalist and rooted in our Scandinavian origins. It’s a very minimalist design aesthetic that holds true to all aspects of the product.” This is clear from the golden-grey Jupiter colour it offers, which is like tasteful, toned-down bling. Very Scandi.

Despite Telegraph readers tiring of grey, there is one silver lining to having a car in a non-neutral colour: it’s less likely to be stolen. The most commonly reported stolen cars are in colours that blend in with the crowd, such as white, grey, black and silver. Criminals tend to avoid brightly coloured cars because they’re easier to identify and harder to offload.

Grey cars are going nowhere, so we can expect to see them clogging up the roads for years to come. However, the good news for those of us bored with monochrome monotony is that blue is consistently the fourth most popular colour (with red in fifth). Axalta’s global automotive colour of 2023 is a shade of blue called Techno Blue, which it describes as “a pulsating colour that is right on beat with the rhythm of today’s lively energy”.

Which goes to show that my dad was way ahead of the trends, even in 1975.



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Offline DuMa

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Re: Do you see more grey cars? Are the manufactures trying to cut cost?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2023, 07:14:33 PM »
I personally hates that grey color.  It is called champagne.  That color looks sad like raining is about to come.  I been looking for the used car  market and those who grey color are just not selling.  Now if you see someone with a grey car, it also means that grey was the only car left on the lot and they have no choice but to buy it.  If it is a used car then same principle applies.  You can't choose your color with used vehicles. 

Red - stands out and usually the first car that cops will see and will give you that ticket.  My mn cousin once bought his red corvette.  His ticket numbers went up.  He sold it right away.  Red sports car to them is a gung ho speeder. 

White - typical asian favorite.  My neighbor, all their cars are white.  Like literally this is not a coincidence.  It  is as though they are a flat family with no taste.  I'm sure the color choice was made by the parents.  If their kids want to buy a car, it has to get an approval from the parents first and yep, it'll be white again. 

I used to sell toyotas while in college.  90% of the people I sold cars to, bought whatever cars I put them in for the test drive.  It is weird to me that people are paying lots of money for a brand new car but yet, a lot of folks are not picking their color by choice.  Maybe because they did not know there was a choice for them to do that. Those who know can demand for it but car selling is a science.  I do things that leads them to follow my instruction. 

These days, with a lack of vehicles on the lot, people can pre order and with that, they can choose their coloring. 



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Offline Boost

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Re: Do you see more grey cars? Are the manufactures trying to cut cost?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2023, 09:05:39 PM »
Most Meka peeps like grey. Doesn't look dirty when covered in dirt and easy to quick wash it to look clean. Even on the forums I see a lot of different shades of grey on cars that people prefer. That stone looking color is getting popular too now along with non shiny matte colors.



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