ASHEBORO — If you think you’re seeing a lot more deep grey cars and trucks on the road recently, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Grey — at least for vehicle color — is having a moment.
In January, Axalta, a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, released its 69th annual Global Automotive Color Popularity Report revealing most cars on today’s roads are white (35 percent), black (19 percent) and grey (19 percent). Grey increased by four percentage points worldwide.
This isn’t your parent’s opalescent grey or your grandparent’s misty grey. Today’s shades are Nardo Gray and Daytona Gray, both in the Audi lineup. The color isn’t just available at Audi. You can also find Stealth Gray (Ford), Lime Rock Gray (BMW), Arctic Gray (Porsche) and Destroyer Gray (Dodge).
Dave Mason is the general manager at Asheboro Chrysler Dodge Jeep. He’s been in the car business for 30 years and he agrees, grey is definitely trending now.
“People do tend to gravitate to white, black, silver and grey,” he said.
Today’s greys are sometimes described as “flat” but that’s not exactly correct. Mason said the difference is, modern shades of grey don’t have a metallic glint that might have been seen in the greys of yesterday. Many have just a hint of a blue undertone, Mason said. That’s also what makes Nardo or Destroyer Gray, among others, different from the standard silver color.
Car color can make a statement about the national zeitgeist.
In the 1970s, Mason said, green was a popular color. The ‘70s were a time when environmentalism was a hot topic. According to research from Virginia Commonwealth University, other earth-tones like brown and olive were trending in that decade.
Researchers said that trend continued into the ’80s with the addition of fusion colors like aqua and two-tone vehicles.
The same research indicated silver became more dominate as a preferred color in the early 2000s, possibility because of the focus on technology in the modern age.
What do researchers think consumers are reflecting on with today’s grey palette of vehicles?
According to Autolist, an online shopping platform and research tool, the recent increase in grey’s popularity is "driven by the resurgence of concrete and stone materials and the ongoing appeal of ceramic and metal tones.” In other words, it’s a grey, concrete jungle out there and that’s reflected in our vehicle color choice.
Maybe. But Mason thinks the choice of vehicle color is very personal.
“I know for me, I don’t care what the world is doing. It’s about what I feel at the moment,” he said.
That hasn’t stopped scientists from pontificating on what color means for the individual.
Quoting a professor for color theory at The New School of Design in New York, another Autolist article suggests if you have a white vehicle, you have taste and elegance. Black is a sophisticated power color. Along those lines:
- Silver means you see yourself as high-class.
- Red says, “Look at me!”
- Blue stands for truthfulness and serenity. Researchers note that blue isn’t such a hot color right now.
- And what about grey? Grey says, “Pay no attention to me. I’m not a showoff.”
Drivers of grey vehicles are also thought to be more mature and interested in the status quo, at least according to the color experts.
As for more practical concerns, maybe people are looking for neutral tones like grey because they believe these will enhance the resale value of the vehicle. That may be an urban myth.
Mason said color is not used in the automotive industry to value a car or truck.
“No tool that we use asks about color,” he said. “There is no add on or deduct for color. Options are more important as is the overall condition of the car and its accident history.”
So, pay no attention to that Destroyer Gray or Nardo Gray vehicle as it glides past you on the interstate. It’s just a fellow traveler — head down and surviving the life while working hard to mind his or her own business.
And get used to it. Analysts in the car industry say grey — in all its societal iterations — is going to be with us a while.