White, Silver Are Top Vehicle Colors In 2012

DEE-ANN DURBIN

DETROIT (AP) â¿¿ If you bought a new vehicle this year, chances are high it was white or silver.

Twenty-two percent of cars and trucks built for the 2012 model year have white paint, making it the most popular color worldwide. Silver is close behind, at 20 percent, followed by black at 19 percent. Gray and red follow to round out the top five.

White is the most popular color for the second year in a row after overtaking silver in 2011. The annual rankings are compiled by automotive paint supplier PPG Industries Inc., a Pittsburgh-based company that provides paints to General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., BMW AG and others.

The rankings are skewed somewhat by the large number of pickup trucks on the market. Trucks accounted for 55 percent of North American production in the first eight months of this year, according to Ward's, which compiles automotive data. One in four pickups produced is white because business owners often use them as work trucks and paint logos on them. By comparison, 19 percent of midsize cars made in North America are white.

White, which was also popular in the 1980s, is making a comeback as a modern, high-tech color thanks in part to Apple Inc.'s all-white stores and glossy white gadgets, said Jane Harrington, PPG's manager of color styling for car companies. Manufacturers are also making more varieties of white, from the flat, bright white on many vans to the pearly cream of luxury SUVs.

Silver also rose in popularity as a high-tech color starting in the 2000s, and remains especially popular choice in Asia. It remains in vogue because it highlights every angle of a car, Harrington said.

"Silver looks great on any design," Harrington said.

White and other "safe" colors â¿¿ silver, gray and black â¿¿ also got more popular during the economic downturn, as buyers stopped leasing and bought vehicles they expected to hold on to for much longer, said Michelle Killen, GM's lead color designer for exterior paints. They were leery of some of the more daring colors on the market, like the magenta available on the Ford Fiesta or the bright orange on the Scion iQ.

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