Paint companies have a somewhat understandable fascination with color popularity, and each year they release their statistics, citing which new car color reigns supreme. This year, DuPont has named white its strongest seller, though just a few months ago PPG said silver was the hottest color.

The earlier PPG report did remark on the rise in popularity of white and its chromatic nemesis, black. DuPont found white, together with its near-twin white pearl, accounted for 20% of the cars covered with its paint, marking the second year that white outranked silver, which scored 17% this year, tied with black. PPG's results had silver at 20% with white at 18% and black at 17% - all very close to DuPont's numbers, and together the two companies' results paint a clearer picture of the overall market.

White, black and silver are all very nearly equally popular, and it's easy to understand why. The colors are never controversial, can be quite attractive while remaining reserved, and are likely to appeal to a wide range of buyers, unlike more polarizing colors.

Other colors, such as blue, are gaining market share, especially in North America, but multi-color or tonal effects are also growing in popularity.
"We're seeing basic colors like black, white and silver continuing in the lead but consumers are looking for differentiation with tri-coat and other effects," said Karen Surcina, DuPont's color marketing manager for performance coatings. "These colors and effects provide a higher degree of customization and luxury-effect which allow consumers a conservative differentiation from the traditional color palette."

In the rest of the world, DuPont's finding the same basic colors, especially white and silver, at the forefront of sales. Asia in particular is enamored of silver cars,w ith 32% of Chinese and 50% of South Koreans choosing the color. White is most popular in India at 28%, though silver also claimed 27%, together accounting for more than half the country's cars.

Longer-term trends show a decrease in silver cars and an increase in the others in almost all regions, according to DuPont's color designer for North America, Nancy Lockhart. "Moving forward, it will be imperative to refresh styling of these popular colors with different effects that can restore their popularity."