It was 400,000 shades of grey for car buyers in 2020

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400,000 shades of grey for UK car buyers: For a second year running, grey was the most popular new motor colour, according to figures confirmed on Friday


Last year’s most popular new car colour was grey in what is being described as a perfect reflection of a relatively glum 2020 for everyone, including the UK motor sector.

Official figures confirmed a second consecutive year at the top of the vehicle palette charts for grey, with almost a quarter of car-buying Britons opting for it, accounting for almost 400,000 motors.

Industry bosses said that grey being the top new car colour in a year dominated by Covid-19, national lockdowns and Brexit concerns – both of which saw vehicle registration crash to a 28-year low – ‘probably reflects the atmosphere’. 

400,000 shades of grey for UK car buyers: For a second year running, grey was the most popular new motor colour, according to figures confirmed on Friday

New car sales dropped to just 1.63million in 2020, which is the lowest level since 1992 and the most substantial year-on-year decline in registrations (29.4 per cent) since the height of the Second World War.

Of those cars registered, some 24.3 per cent were grey. 

That works out at 397,197, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has confirmed on Friday morning. 

Britons’ three most chosen colour selections were an accurate representation of public mood, with black and white making up a monochrome podium of popularity.

In fact, more than six in ten (61.6 per cent) of all new cars entering British roads in 2020 were painted in the three fairly uninspiring tones. 

The rest of the top 10 remained unchanged from the 2019 popularity standings, apart from yellow and bronze which reversed places as yellow increased its market share by 50 per cent – though that’s equivalent to only 6,816 sales. 

Red, a former favourite colour for Britons, saw its registrations drop below 200,000 for the first time in a decade to 147,222, recording its worst tally since 1997.

Grey days: Industry bosses said that having grey as the top new car colour in a year dominated by Covid-19, national lockdowns and Brexit concerns - both of which saw registration crash to a 28-year low - 'probably reflects the atmosphere'

Grey days: Industry bosses said that having grey as the top new car colour in a year dominated by Covid-19, national lockdowns and Brexit concerns – both of which saw registration crash to a 28-year low – ‘probably reflects the atmosphere’

While grey was the choice colour for petrol and diesel-powered cars, electric vehicle buyers went against the grain in more ways than one.

Of the 108,205 battery electric vehicles bought last year, 25,689 were white – working out at 23.7 per cent of all BEVs.

In contrast, the most chosen tone for a plug-in hybrid vehicle was black, with 17,989 (26.9 per cent).

And despite grey being the top choice in general, the Ford Fiesta – the UK’s best-selling car for a 12th year running – was most often painted in shades of blue, which hasn’t topped the charts since 1999. 

White was the top colour choice for buyers of battery electric cars, like the VW ID.3 pictured

White was the top colour choice for buyers of battery electric cars, like the VW ID.3 pictured 

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘2020 was a pretty dark year for the automotive industry and having grey as the top new car colour probably reflects the atmosphere. 

‘The sector, however, continues to provide valuable mobility, from vans delivering essential goods to private cars helping key workers do their jobs, and click and collect offers a lifeline for the industry, helping to keep manufacturing going. 

‘It cannot, however, replace the showroom experience and the sector has taken great steps to ensure dealers are Covid-secure with the flexibility to manage customer appointments so car buyers can choose a new car and colour in a safe environment.’

The Fiesta was the nation's most-bought new car in 2020 for a 12th consecutive year, but it wasn't grey that was drivers chose most - customers opted for blue most commonly

The Fiesta was the nation’s most-bought new car in 2020 for a 12th consecutive year, but it wasn’t grey that was drivers chose most – customers opted for blue most commonly

Unlike 2019, which saw Scotland and the Channel Islands bucking the national trend, in 2020 grey was the unanimous colour of choice across the UK. 

The only counties not to opt for grey cars as their number one choice were the Isle of White and Borders, where blue was the most popular tint, and Strathclyde which saw white take the top spot. 

Interestingly, Leicestershire was the most popular location for pink cars, with 23.7 per cent of the UK’s total registered in the region, while buyers in the West Midlands snapped up the most orange cars. 

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