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Grey is UK’s favourite new car colour for the fourth year in a row

grey cars

Grey is the UK’s most popular new car colour for fourth consecutive year, followed by black and white, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT data shows that 408,155 new grey cars were registered last year, up by 2.8%, equating to one in four new cars sold (24.8%).

Black, which had been the most popular car colour in the UK from 2009 to 2012, was the next most popular colour, equating to one in five new cars (20.5%) sold. White was the third most popular (17.2%).

It means that an incredible 62.4% of all new cars sold in 2021 were painted in one of these monochrome shades, although blue edged closer to the top three, increasing its sales (1.4%) for the first time in five years and trailing just 2,638 units behind white.

The rest of the top 10 remained largely unchanged from 2020, although green overtook orange to gain seventh place, equating to 17,927 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.

SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, says that, while last year’s new cars might share the same shades as previous years, under the bonnet there has been a real shift, with one in six buyers choosing to go 'green'.

“With car registrations still low compared to pre- pandemic, helping even more drivers move to greener cars – whatever the actual colour – has never been more important,” he said.

“Incentives are helping move the market and should continue, but the speed of this shift to electric must be matched by an acceleration in the pace of charging infrastructure investment. Drivers should expect to be able to recharge irrespective of wherever they live, work or visit.”

White was the most popular shade for mini-sized and sports cars, while larger dual purpose, luxury saloons and executive cars were, as usual, most likely to be black.

At the niche end of the colour palette, gold, yellow and turquoise were the fastest growing colours, with gold more than tripling its appeal (up 231.8%), yellow up by a third (31.3%) and turquoise up by a fifth (19.2%), although together they accounted for less than one percent of the market (0.9%).

A non-monochrome colour has not been among the UK’s overall top three since blue in 2010, although it was second most popular colour amongst Welsh and Northern Irish new car buyers.

Grey was the top colour in every home nation last year, but more so in England (25.3%), closely followed by Scotland (22.9%), Wales (22.8%), and Northern Ireland (21.7%).

Counties sporting bright-coloured cars included Bedfordshire, the most likely place to see a new pink car, with 66 registrations, while Greater London and Buckinghamshire had the highest numbers of green and turquoise motors, with 1,263 and 238 registrations respectively.

Orange was the new black in the West Midlands, where tangerine-tinted cars accounted for 1,156 registrations, the highest in any UK region.

Scotland was, however, the least likely place to spot a new maroon car, as none were sold in the country. In fact, just 12 buyers across the whole of the UK specified their new car in the colour – the lowest number since 1997.

Consumer preference for grey, which comes in many varying shades, can be attributed to a wide range of reasons; it can be a sleek and deeper tone than other shades, is well-suited to black trims and darker wheels and offers an attractive compromise between the also-popular black and white, with wider resale appeal than brightly coloured cars, so a potentially ‘safer’ choice, especially as it reduces the visibility of dirt more than the other shades.


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