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White is the new silver

There was a flurry of stories in the press recently proclaiming that, when it comes to car colour, white is the new silver. But have tastes really changed that much?

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, white cars have risen to the top this year, finally supplanting silver after a decade long reign at the top. There were lots of crazy theories for this, including the so-called ‘Apple effect’, suggesting that we now associate the plain white, minimalist look with things like Apple devices.

Ten years ago, silver was way out in front with 36% of all new cars, but in 2014, white is the winner with 22% of all new cars, with silver down to just 13%. However, if you look at the figures a little more closely, you’ll see that we are still every bit as conservative in our car colour choice, with silver at 13% and grey – which is really just another word for silver – at 14%. Put them together and they still top the colour charts with more than a quarter of all cars sold. Between them, silver, grey and white account to 49% – or half – of all car sales in the UK, which you have to agree shows a distinct lack of imagination.

Does car colour affect safety

There are lots of fictional stories about red cars being more dangerous and light coloured cars having more accidents because they are hard to see, but few scientific studies have actually produced any hard evidence for this.

You might expect the brighter your vehicle, the easier it would be to see, making red or yellow the safest. However, a study in New Zealand in 2003 found that silver was the safest colour, even though it blends in with grey road surfaces and grey skies.

How does car colour affect resale value?

One thing that is well documented is the affect of your car colour choice on the future value of your vehicle when you come to sell. A bright and original colour may be perfect for your own personal tastes, but it will significantly restrict the potential buyers when you come to sell. You’ll also get less for your trade-in, as the dealer will know that a bright coloured car will be harder to sell.

One study by CAP Automotive found that white cars are worth around 5% more on the second hand market than the average. Glass’s Guide, the authority on used car prices, also recommends metallic paint as a good investment when it comes to choosing car colours. It may cost an extra £500 or so on the new price, but it could add as much as £2,000 to the resale value.

Does car colour matter anyway

At the end of the day, it turns out that we don’t really care that much about the colour of our cars anyway. According to research by the AA, just 1% of men, and 3% of women said that colour was an important factor for them when choosing a new car. So if you’re not that bothered, perhaps white is the best choice after all, giving you better value when you come to sell.

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