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How Are Car Colours Chosen?​

We look at all the factors that influence car colour choices in production models

Let's face it, car colour preference is a big factor in the choice of your new car.  Is your favourite colur a bold and brash statement that stands out from the crowd, or a subtle, timeless shade that will never go out of fashion?  Do you not really mind, or do you worry about the ease of 're-selling' further down the line - 'silver is always a safe bet'?

Car manufacturers have a whole array of choices to make before they can settle on a range of body paintwork colours that will satisfy markets all over the world.  Read on to find out the factors that determine which colours make it to the production line...​

Model Launch 'Hero' Colours

When a new model launches, manufacturers want everyone to notice it. Colours that stand out from the crowd will attract attention and will attract customers to website pictures, large billboards and vehicles spotlighted in the showroom. New models will be much photographed in the press and in model launch presentations, both live, on video and in the media. If you think about it, an all white, grey or black car does not easily show off the contours of a new model shape - whereas a bold and bright colour will show off the newly designed silhouette of a new or 'facelifted' model. Customers may, in reality, choose a more conservative colour, but the bold and brash helps introduce the car to them.

Which of these two images shows the vehicle shape to best advantage? Which would you notice more easily on the road?

Financial Considerations​

The development of every colour is a financially demanding process.  A less popular colour is seemingly less profitable for the carmaker.​  Colours that are complex to apply in practice can add cost to the paint spraying process.  The advantages and disadvantages have to be weighed up.  All colours have to be able to cope with environmental exposures, such as strong sunlight, and must not chip, tarnish or fade.

Trends and Choices​

According to Škoda's Bodywork Paint Specialists, bold colours tend to be more successful on smaller models bought by younger customers, or the young-at-heart.  Larger car customers tend to opt for more traditional shades.

Inspiration for colours comes from the wider environment - trends change and adapt.  Colour and material trends in other industries, such as fashion, influence the process.  Then the manufacturer needs to consider if this trend fits with the brand identity, its likely customer base and is a suitable colour for a car at all.  There are technical considerations to be taken into account too.​

Production Challenges​

Getting some colours into production can be challenging.  For example, there is a current trend for matt shades and paints applied in multiple layers.  This is much more demanding to achieve on the production line than conventional painting, which is usually in a one-step process.  Manufacturers such as Škoda are constantly researching ways to gain more flexibility in paint choices and application.​

Shades Of Grey?​

It's not just bold colours that risk being a short term trend.  For example, whites, greys, silvers and blacks all have subtle changes in trends over time.  They can also be applied in a variety of ways.  Matt black and metallic black look very different.  Taste changes over time and from market to market.​

Let's take white across our range of brands...  Do you fancy glacier white, candy white, moon white metallic, pure white, Nevada white or maybe white pearl?  Who thought 'white' was just 'white'?!!

Global Differences​

Colours and how they are perceived in different countries are influenced by many factors.  There are cultural and geographical aspects to be considered.  For example, in India Škoda does not include black in the available colour palette - a black car would get far too hot in that environment,  so customers prefer white or paler cars.  Black, however, is one of the most popular colours in Europe.  Bright and bold colours stand out in sunny conditions and so Škoda offers colours exclusive to particular markets - for example in India orange honey (an important colour in Indian spiritual life and on the chakra spectrum) is a popular choice.​

Škoda design team in Indian market

Who'd have thought so much goes into choosing a car colour!

So, are you a silver grey stalwart or fancy a vibrant red for your next vehicle colour choice?

Visit our showrooms in Kent & Sussex for the full range of models across our brand franchises and pick your favourite colour!

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Renault colour selections
The Škoda colour palette

Thanks to our colleagues at Škoda for the insight into colour.