Registrations SMMT News

Colours put in the shade as grey matters most to UK car buyers

18 January 2023 #Registrations #SMMT News
  • Grey is UK’s most popular new car colour for fifth consecutive year with 25.7% market share, followed by black and white to complete a monochrome podium.
  • Maroon, pink and cream were bottom of the charts, taking just 0.02% of all registrations combined.
  • Green enjoys resurgence with biggest volume uplift of +13,293 units while electric vehicles account for a quarter of all new green cars.

Grey is officially the nation’s favourite new car ‘colour’ for the fifth year in a row, with more than a quarter (25.7%) of UK buyers choosing the shade in 2022, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).1 Some 415,199 grey cars were registered last year, up 1.7%, while black and white took second and third place overall, completing a monochrome podium.

More than six in 10 (62.5%) new cars hitting British roads in 2022 were painted in grey, black or white. Silver, meanwhile, which held first or second place in car buyers’ affections for 12 straight years from 2000 to 2011, posted just 98,483 units and a 6.1% market share in 2022 – its lowest level in more than two decades. Red, although retaining its fifth-place ranking, also recorded a decline to reach its lowest market share since 2008, at 136,793 units accounting for 8.5% of all cars registered.

At the other end of the spectrum, the least popular shades were maroon, pink, and cream, which, combined, recorded less than 1% of all registrations.2 Pink tinted vehicles tallied their lowest number since 2009, while other niche paints, including orange, yellow, bronze, turquoise and mauve, all posted growth, hinting at a broader trend, although combined, the colours only make up 3.4% of the market at 55,401 units.

Meanwhile, green enjoyed a resurgence in popularity to a level not seen for 16 years, up by 74.2% on 2021 with the largest volume growth of all colours (up 13,293 units).3 Some 31,220 new green cars were registered in total – perhaps fittingly a quarter of which (24.1%) could be plugged-in. Overall though, the top colour for most powertrains remained grey, with just PHEVs opting for black.

Grey was also the top selling colour in every region and every county in the UK, bar the Scottish Borders where blue pushed it into second spot. Red cars proved most popular in Berkshire with 6,735 registrations, while the highest number of green cars was registered in Greater London, at 1,894 units, and Strathclyde registered more orange cars (1,313) than any other county. Cheshire took top spot for turquoise, with 291 units, while pink was most favoured in Derbyshire, although it accounted for just 10 new car registrations in the county, demonstrating how rarely drivers picked the colour.

While grey was the most popular colour in the UK’s three largest segments, superminis, lower mediums and dual purpose, as well as in upper medium and specialist sports, white was the most popular shade for the mini and multi-purpose segments and black was most popular for executive cars and luxury saloons.

SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, said,

Car colour choice theoretically proclaims something about who we are as drivers and buying a car today comes with many possibilities to customise your vehicle to match. After choosing from the market’s ever-growing choice of makes, models, powertrains, wheel trims and in-car tech, picking out the perfect paint is an exciting decision to make. While the most popular shades remained unchanged for 2022, for those looking to ensure their vehicle stands out from the crowd, there remains a huge variety of colour choices from across the rainbow available to suit every character.

Notes to editors

1 Grey cars registered in 2021: 408,155 units
2 Ranking of SMMT 2022 data set
3 Green vehicles registered in 2021: 17,927 units

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