New car colours 2023
More motorists go green but grey is still the colour of choice
- Grey is Britain’s most popular new car colour for the sixth consecutive year, topping half a million registrations.
- Black and white complete trio of best-selling colours, marking sixth year of an identical monochrome podium.
- Green cars reach highest share of market since 2004.
- Cream, pink and maroon are Britain’s rarest colours, comprising just 0.03% of all registrations.
Saturday 20 January, 2024
Britain’s drivers cemented their preference for monochrome cars as grey topped the new car colour chart for the sixth year in a row, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Boasting a market share of more than a quarter (26.8%), more than half a million (509,194) grey cars were registered in 2023, with volumes rising 22.6% as the new car market enjoyed its best year since the pandemic.1
Completing the podium, black and white held second and third place, also for the sixth consecutive year, and recorded their best volumes since 2019. Almost two thirds (63.5%) of all new cars joining UK roads in 2023 were decked in monochrome, while blue rose 10.9% to take fourth place and red remained in fifth – although it also recorded its lowest market share since 2005 and has seen its popularity steadily decline since 2019.2
While Britain clearly has a preference for monochrome cars, drivers determined to stamp their style on their motor were able to choose from a variety of colour variations, with maroon, pink and cream remaining at the niche end of the colour palette – comprising just 604 registrations combined. Orange, bronze, turquoise and brown fell in popularity compared with 2023 volumes.3
Green, however, experienced a comeback, reaching its highest volume since 2005 at 53,426 units and a market share of 2.8%, the highest since 2004.4 While the colour may have environmentally friendly associations, ‘zero emission cars’ reaching Britain’s roads in record numbers last year followed the same grey colour trend as their internal combustion engine counterparts.
Grey also remained the most popular choice across the majority of segments, including the three bestsellers – supermini, dual purpose and lower medium. Three segments went against the grain, with black the favoured shade among executive cars and luxury saloons, and white appearing as the top choice for the multi-purpose segment.
Fleets, which drove investment in the new car market in 2023, also favoured monochrome, with grey making up more than a quarter (26.9%) of all registrations.5 Private sales saw more variation, brightening up roads as they were marginally more likely to opt for a green or yellow tint over fleets, with 29,919 and 6,964 units registered respectively.
The British regions were unanimous in preference for grey, with white ranking as the second most popular in the Channel Islands, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Black was the second most popular in England, Wales and the Isle of Man.
Strathclyde proved the best place to play the ‘yellow car’ game, ranking the most registrations of the bright shade, with 677 sold in the area and, while orange wasn’t quite the new black in Cheshire, drivers there registered the most cars in this colour of any county, at 1,140 units.6 Berkshire was home to more than one in 10 of pink cars registered (22 units) and was also the top spot for red motors at 8,034 units. Drivers in Greater London snapped up more green cars than any other county (3,650).
SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, said,
2023 was a bumper year for the British new car market, as buyers continued to gravitate towards familiar monochrome hues for another year – even as ever more motorists embrace new technologies. Car manufacturers have diligently expanded their offerings, with a huge selection of colour options available across hundreds of models and thousands of specification options. The extensive variety allows drivers flexibility in choosing a tint that embodies their individuality and style.
Notes to editors
1 Grey cars registered in 2022: 415,199 units; New car registrations, full year 2023: 1,903,054
2 Red market share, 2005: 7.3%
3 Orange cars registered in 2023: 16,677 units
4 Green car market share 2004: 4.6%; Green car market volume 2005: 61,453
5 Grey fleet car registrations in 2023: 280,480 units
6 Black was the second most popular car colour in Cheshire, with 23,529 registrations
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