It's perhaps no surprise that France and Italy are fond of cream-colored cars given their famous cafe cultures. But why do buyers in the Czech Republic favor blue more than any other nation? And the Irish may be traditionally associated with green, but they prefer silver when driving.
These are a few of the findings from a study by Ford that looked at car color preferences across Europe. Understanding preferences helps Ford stay in step with customers and stock the right vehicles in dealer showrooms.
Color trends, like fashion, change year to year. For example, a small but growing number of buyers are choosing brown, copper and other earth tones. "It took people a little while to warm to the brown hues; they had previously been perceived as old fashioned," said a Ford representative. "But the brown tones are making a comeback in fashion, interior furniture, and now automotive, and have been revived with exciting interior to exterior combinations."
White remains the runaway hit in Turkey (49% of vehicles sold). Turkey, with its sweltering climate, also picked the lowest percentage of black vehicles. Denmark, by contrast, chose black as its top finish, and were least likely to opt for white.
But geographical borders and climate do not always determine the color tastes of car buyers. Norway and Portugal, for example, share the same six favorite colors.
Only one country has a number one color other than black, white or silver - the Czech Republic. One quarter of Czech buyers chose blue Fords in 2010. Czech buyers also chose the highest percentage of red among all nations - mirroring the dominant red and blue colors in the Czech flag.
But patriotism only goes so far. The Netherlands didn't even figure when it came to orange vehicles, while the Irish were the third least likely country to buy green.
How does Ford use this data? "For major markets like Germany, for example, we know that black and darker colors are always popular, so we factor that into our planning," said Vince Shaw from Ford of Europe. "Clearly we want our vehicles to be attractive to our customers and colour is a big part of that. In fact, one of the success stories has been Hot Magenta and Squeeze - bright red and green - offered on the Fiesta. They have both sold extremely well, so it's clear that our customers are keen to have something more individual."
There is also evidence that vehicle color trends are just as prevalent as trends in other fashion markets. "Red used to be by far the most popular color," explained Shaw. "But now it looks like white is in the ascendancy. Dark grey, black and blue are always popular, as they are in men or women's clothing, but just like any other fashion, the different car colors come in and out of fashion."
And with 2011 seeing the launch of the all-new Ford Focus, boasting striking colors like Candy Yellow, Candy Red and Mars Red, or the stunning Tangerine Scream previewed on the Focus ST model at the Paris Motor Show, this year may well see some hot new colour trends emerge throughout Europe.
Top Five Countries in Color (by percentage of Ford vehicles sold in 2010)
1. Denmark (37.8%)
2. Norway (31.6%)
3. Portugal (26.7%)
4. Germany (26.6%)
5. Russia (24.9%)
Czech Republic (24.5%)
Great Britain (19.7%)
1. France (4.1%)
2. Italy (1.2%)
3. Greece (0.8%)
5. Hungary (0.5%)
Czech Republic (2,1%)
1. Sweden (0.8%)
2. Romania (0.6%)
3. Hungary (0.4%)
4. Austria (0.3%)
5. Poland (0.28%)
Czech Republic (15%)
1. Turkey (49%)
2. Hungary (32.2%)
3. Switzerland (31.3%)
4. Spain (28.8%)
5. France (27.5%)
Global Color Popularity
Major paint supplier, Du Pont, produces an annual overview of color trends from around the world, and it reveals some more interesting trends for different regions in 2010.
According to its figures, Europe's top colors are black and grey, while Asian countries opt primarily for white and silver. South America is also a fan of silver, while North America's top picks are the contrasting colors of black and white.
Globally, silver was the most popular choice with 26% of the figures, with red (6%) and blue (5%) lagging behind as fifth and sixth.
Meanwhile, the brown/cream palette went down reasonably well, accounting for 3% of Du Pont's 2010 sales, with intermediate-size vehicles and MPVs in Europe being the biggest takers of this color range.