It was once seen as a dull and boring tone, but grey has become the dominant colour choice among new car buyers. The shade was chosen as motorists’ favourite for the fourth year in a row, according to latest industry figures.
In a year dominated by pandemic-related disruptions impacting total new car registrations, more than 408,000 grey cars were sold in 2021, up 3% on the previous 12 months, and accounting for a quarter of the total market.
Black, the most popular car paint in Britain from 2009 to 2012, was in second place on 21% of new cars, while white was in third place (17%), according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
It means that most UK new car buyers have chosen a monochrome colour (silver, black, white, grey) every year of this century. About seven in every ten new cars registered in 2021 were painted in one of these four shades.
More buyers feeling green
The rest of the top ten remained largely unchanged compared with 2020, although green overtook orange to gain seventh place, cladding almost 18,000 cars. Sales of green cars rose for the first time since 2015, with 24% more buyers opting for the colour than in the previous year, while orange and silver both fell in popularity with buyers.
White was the most popular shade for small cars and sports cars, while larger dual purpose, luxury saloons and executive cars were most likely to be ordered in black.
At the colour fringes, gold, yellow and turquoise were the fastest growing choices, with gold more than tripling its appeal, yellow up by a third and turquoise increasing by a fifth, although together they accounted for less than 1% of the new car market.
Grey was the top colour in every British nation last year, but more so in England (25%), closely followed by Scotland and Wales (23%), and only slightly less popular in Northern Ireland (22%).
Consumer preference for grey cars can be attributed to a wide range of reasons. It comes in many different shades from dark silver to almost black. It can be a sleeker and deeper tone than other shades, and can be tinted with hints of colour to provide different effects. It is well suited to black trims and darker wheels, which are currently popular. It offers a compromise between straight black or white, while its neutrality generally proveds wider resale appeal than brightly coloured cars. It also reduces the visibility of dirt more than other shades.