Beige. Practically a curse word to enthusiasts. As car slang, it can be applied to any commonplace car designed solely to move people and things from point a to point b in the most boring fashion possible. The most frustrating aspect of “beige” is that the average car buyer LOVES it.
Almost by definition, the most common cars on the road are boring. Not only because the market demands inoffensive, efficient, reliable, comfortable transportation, but also because even the most exciting designs become stale when you see three in a row at every stoplight. This doesn’t have to be the case, though. Even if every car in America was the same make and model, a little splash of color could liven up the highways and break up our monochromatic lives.
A bit of clarification when talking about car colors: Beige does not only refer to the tan, sandy color of choice for every late 90’s mid-sized sedan in existence, but all of the most common colors that serve as parking lot camouflage. The various shades of white, silver, black and tan disappear in a parking lot like a golden dollar in Scrooge McDuck’s vault.
Why are consumers so afraid of a little color in their lives? Many explanations have been offered, ranging from certain colors’ dirt-hiding properties to smartphones making grey-scale synonymous with technology to customers buying whatever is in stock at the dealer.
Each has merit, but the explanation that seems to fit the best is concern about resale value. Insider Car news went through an Autolist.com study on color’s effect on resale value and the results paint a drab picture.
Other than the smaller segment of convertibles, each body style shows an increased value for black or white, and blue shows up three times as the least valuable color. When looking at the most popular models, Autolist found the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, Toyota Camry and Honda Civic to all be most valuable in black or white and least valuable in blue or red.
Whether these resale values are driving color preferences or reacting to them is hard to tell, but if resale value is high on the list of requirements for a new car, the future may remain monochromatic. According to the Detroit Free Press, DuPont’s former automotive division, Axalta agrees, saying that colors are beginning to make a comeback but, for now, “Grey is the new Silver.”