For the fourth consecutive year, white has remained Britain’s most popular car colour, with 552,329 white cars registered out of a total 2.69 million. Pipping black (542,862), grey (465,579) and blue (414,160) to the top spot, the demand is still clearly still huge, but that hasn’t always been the case.
Remember when white cars used to be a faux pas? They were the burden of every car dealer’s existence – clogging up the forecourt and reminding us that very few things look appealing in white, with the exception of dishwashers and washing machines.
So, what changed?
The tidal wave of white cars primarily has Apple and aspirational car brands such as Audi to thank for their resurgence.
The sleek, simple and distinctive all-white Apple designs helped to popularise the colour in the early noughties, as did forward-thinking, more design-led car manufacturers such as Audi.
Ironically, late Apple CEO Steve Jobs was initially opposed to the idea of white products, but was convinced to use it as the brand’s primary colour by designer Sir Jony Ive.
Around the same time, the boxy, breadbin style car designs of yesteryear were being phased out in favour of fluid curves and contours, with white being the perfect colour to show off the new, more elegant designs.
If you wanted a product to look both futuristic and trendy, then white was really the only choice.
Behind the white
While fashion will always play a role in consumer decision making, personal colour choice will also provide a revealing insight into your subconscious.
Colour psychologists have long since suggested that consumers seek out white when they are looking for mental clarity.
Colour Psychologist Karen Haller suggests that if you like everything clean and in its place, you’ll go for white. “Someone buying a white car is unlikely to have a smelly rugby kit languishing in the footwell, or a half-eaten packed of crisps going stale on the passenger seat. This is the kind of person who likes order and routine in their lives. They can’t stand mess and clutter.”
Why white vans are still white
White also still dominates the Light Commercial Vehicles market by a clear mile. According to stats from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, in the first half of 2017 there were 100,316 newly registered LCVs in white, with silver bringing up the rear with a meagre 24,482 registrations.
Traditionally, the tradesman’s choice of white was made from a purely practical standpoint. White reflects the sun better and heats up less quickly, so was selected to keep drivers cool in warm, non-air-conditioned temperatures.
Contrary to popular belief, white vehicles are also said to be easier to keep clean. While dark and metallic hues cruise around looking desperate for a car wash 90% of the time, swirls, scratches and dust are actually less visible on white.
Ultimately though, just as bacon sandwiches, the Queen, cheese rolling and the BBC are much-revered national treasures, white vans have now cemented themselves firmly in the list of British cultural icons.
What does your car colour say about you?
White not your colour of choice? Here is what the shade of your motor says about the kind of person you are:
Colour consultant and trend forecaster Leatrice Eiseman describes black as the ultimate power colour and the driver as someone who can’t be easily manipulated. “They love elegance and appreciate that which is classic. And they’re usually this way in everything else that they choose. This is a person who probably wears a lot of black in their wardrobe because that color really speaks to empowerment.”
Coming in as Britain’s 3rd most popular shade, grey is a colour usually chosen by those who want to blend into the background. The driver is normally practical and pragmatic. What you see is what you get.
With a 17.29% market share, blue is colour of choice for those who aren’t afraid to be noticed on the road. Light blue is cool to the touch and on the eye, explained Eiseman, so is usually driven by those who have a calm demeanour. Dark blues on the other hand, are more confident. “The drivers like being credible, an authority figure,” she explained.
In fifth place with 303,789 cars registered in 2016, red has long since been considered as the colour for dynamic, out-going and passionate individuals. Drivers of red cars like to be seen and don’t shy away from attention.