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I've been interested in this question for a few years, sorry if this is not the right place to ask it.

As I've been driving around the US for the last few years, I noticed that some community parking lots "lack color" - the vehicles can be defined as colorless - they are white, black, various shades of gray or beige. Yet I've seen several new car catalogs and see that most cars come in several colors.

I was surprised to see this "lack of color" again and again, so I googled it, and found that the trend is not just in America, but worldwide:

enter image description here

2009 Top 10 world car colors

This is interesting, because I've never ever heard of white, silver or black being called people's favorite color. Most search results point to "blue" being the favorite color (at least in the United States) for English search results.

This begs the question: Why do people go for boring/conservate exterior car colors, like white or silver when buying a new car, instead of choosing their favorite color?

Here are my wild guesses, and it would be great to debunk them:

  • Is this due to conformity, resale value, or an attempt to stand out less on a highway?
  • Is this because a car is big enough to be seen with rods in the eye?
  • Or do people see their cars as just another "appliance", like a toaster, microwave or a fridge, and pick a color similar to what they see in their kitchen?

I appreciate your input!

PS. This article is especially interesting, because it predicts orange/brown becoming the "new color" of expensive cars, while most color psychology results I've seen list people naming orange as "cheap" color, and advise to avoid it.

America's favorite car colors for 2012 are ... boring

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Because Henry Ford said so! Kidding aside, this is an interesting question, though I'm not convinced the answer is a 'cognitive' one. Also, do you have a citation for orange being regarded as "cheap"? – Jeff Nov 25 '12 at 0:11
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Also, this article seems very relevant: Why Are Our Cars Painted Such Boring Colors – Jeff Nov 25 '12 at 0:12
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From the article Jeff linked, it seems that dull colors are mostly due to new paint standards and longer expected car lifespan – Alex Stone Nov 25 '12 at 5:00
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You might want to look into whether people typically buy anything in their favorite color (or anything other than clothes). This may not be a car-specific phenomenon. – octern Nov 26 '12 at 5:29
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Light colors reflect sun heat away, also they do not tend to age as fast in sunny climates. Heat in the winter is easy: the car engine makes it all the time anyhow. Cool in the summer is difficult and expensive. I painted my (brown) car roof white and the reduction in heat load was dramatic. (My car is 20 years old, so what the heck.) When I said I wanted to paint the car bright pink, everyone I know recoiled in horror. So, I didn't. – no comprende Jan 12 at 3:25
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Mainly, because they're too noticeable.

You don't really see houses in electric green, pink, or yellow. No one wants to stand out in a crowd or be the sore thumb.

Here: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/10/12/survey-americans-pretty-much-the-whole-world-prefers-boring-colored-cars

I'll post more sources when I can.

share|improve this answer
    
I wonder if this goes for other things as well? My phone case is metallic fuchsia, and I have other very colorful items. Few people do. – no comprende Jan 12 at 3:27
    
I've read that Braun industrial and consumer designs had a big impact on ordinary things like coffee makers being boring colors with a colorful "Start" button: redyawning.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/… – Alex Stone Jan 13 at 16:05

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