What’s With All The White Cars On The Roads These Days?

There's a historical pattern that has brought us to this boring period. What’s With All The White Cars On The Roads These Days? Giphy

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If you’ve been paying attention to automotive trends, you might have noticed that there are an awful lot of white vehicles rolling off dealer lots. In fact, nearly 4 in 10 of all autos worldwide are white.

And when you add in other boring colors like black, silver, and gray, you’ve accounted for more than three-fourths of all vehicles. But that wasn’t always the case.

So what happened?

When things are going well in society, people want colorful cars. When things take a turn for the worse — economic crisis, war, etc. — dull colors take over.

In the earliest days of auto manufacturing, paint faded quickly and took a long time to dry. Then Henry Ford developed a cheaper, sturdier option … but you had to get it in black.

When paint started to advance, the prosperous 1920s were dominated by vibrant car colors. From there, we can see a clear pattern:

  • World War II hit, bringing about a period of boring colors.
  • The ‘50s and ‘60s saw economic growth and a boost in colorful cars.
  • Vietnam and a gas crisis brought back boring in the ‘70s.
  • A booming ‘90s economy sparked a revival in bright paint jobs.

And that brings us to the past two decades, which have been dominated by white and silver.

It’s not just the economy

While the 2009 recession is probably responsible for some of our current shift away from bright colors, there are a few other notable factors.

Silver gained popularity in the early 2000s when futuristic designs were all the rage. When Apple started releasing sleek, white products, many people wanted the same for their cars.

And finally, white is not only cheaper when buying a car, but it also helps a car hold its resale value better than a more divisive color.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee July 19th, 2023
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