Despite suggestions to the contrary, automotive color choice doesn’t change all that much over a person’s lifetime, according to Robert Daily, color marketing manager at DuPont Herberts Automotive Systems (Troy, MI). “It’s generally accepted that each generation will carry into their retirement years the same desires in terms of houses, clothing, recreation, whatever,” he says. “This extends to color. Each generation gravitates to the colors that were hot in their heyday.”
One can only hope Daily is wrong, or—judging from some of the cars currently on the street—edgy styling may not be the only surprise once Generation X hits the luxury market. Daily, for his part, is certain good taste will win out. “The Gen Xers, because they’re not as affluent at this point in their lives, tend to buy more entry-level vehicles,” he explains, “and they tend to be painted in brighter, more primary colors.” These colors, he insists may continue to be popular, but will become more muted over time. “Your favorite color today,” Daily insists, “is not the same shade as the one you picked when you were six.”
Nor are color choices the same around the world. Silver (18.4%), medium gray (17.3%), and white pearl (14.8%) are the top three colors in North America’s luxury segment. Yet, 36% of Europeans order silver/gray vehicles, with blue metallic (18%) and black (13%) next. Just 6.0% of European car buyers order a white vehicle. Conversely, Japanese buyers order 43% of their vehicles in silver/gray, 35% in white, and only 8.0% in black. This is a big change from just 20 years ago when 60% of Japanese cars were ordered in white.
“Americans see white pearl as a luxury color, but you’d be hard pressed to find that color in Europe,” says Daily. “White is the color for company cars over there.” As a result, Daily says it has been tough convincing European automakers to offer the color in North America. Volvo was one of those car makers. Finally, after years of trying, Volvo relented. The Swedish concern has added 2,500 white pearl S80s to its 2002 production.—CAS