When it comes to cars, what’s on the outside can be vitally important. According to Ford, up to 40 per cent of us will walk out of a dealership if we can’t buy a car in the colour we want.

The automaker is always on the lookout for new shades, checking fashion, technology and even colours from other cultures that buyers may have seen on the Internet, according to Susan Swek, Ford’s chief designer of colour and materials design.

“There are people who want grey, silver, black or white time and time again,” Swek says. “But we do offer some colours that we call ‘trend’ colours. The hot magenta on the Fiesta is a one-year trend colour, where it’s polarizing. A lot of people won’t like it, and a lot will buy it.”

Only about 3 per cent of buyers will choose these short-lived trend paints, but if a colour does better than expected, the company will carry it over for another year.


Auto manufacturers face some of the longest lead-in times of any consumer products; Swek and her team recently finalized the colours for 2014 vehicles and are working on the 2015 models. In addition to research for its aesthetic appeal, each colour is also weather-tested for a year to be sure it won’t fade or peel in the sun.

Silver/grey is the most popular shade around the globe, and in Canada, 22.3 per cent of buyers choose it. Black, the next in line, accounts for only 14.1 per cent.

“Silver has actually been a huge seller for a long time,” Swek says. “It’s probably because silver looks good on almost any type of body style you put it on, anything from a small car to a truck, a large car or a crossover.”

Picking the colours to offer on each model is a combination of market research and “eyeballing,” Swek says.

“Design is kind of an intuitive thing. You look at the product and you know it’s right or it’s not right.”

The bright green Lime Squeeze that looks so appropriate on a small Fiesta wouldn’t be applied to a big truck because it wouldn’t look right, Swek says.

Higher-end cars tend to wear subdued colours and their paint is usually more expensive and richer-looking.

“We’re starting to see people open to a little more colour on some luxury products,” Swek says.

“But there are always colours that will never be luxury. We don’t envision bright pink on a Lincoln.”

Canada’s colours

Atlantic Canadians buy more gold and red cars, while Albertans and Quebecers buy more blue. Those in Ontario are most likely to buy black and least likely to buy blue. Green cars are most popular in B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Latest From ...