Exotic only in the name: Why are so many cars gray?

Muted, inconspicuous colors, "mouse-grey" cars everywhere you look.

Exotic only in the name: Why are so many cars gray?

Muted, inconspicuous colors, "mouse-grey" cars everywhere you look. You might think it's the weather that makes gray the favorite color of German car buyers. But there are other reasons - and white, black and gray as vehicle colors are not only popular in Germany. Why is that?

Almost 35 years ago in the film "Oedipussi" the colors mouse grey, dusty grey, ash grey, stone grey, lead grey, cement gray and other muted shades of gray were available for selection for a new sofa set. Viewers were greatly amused when Loriot, as the film's hero, suggested these colors.

If you look at the car manufacturers' configurators today, you get the impression of deja vu: the gray nuances chronos gray metallic, manhattan gray, terra gray, sophisto gray, graphite gray, skyscraper metallic, selenite gray, dolphin gray metallic, magnetic metallic, urano gray, mineral gray, steel gray, Highland gray and dolomite gray are just a selection of the shades of gray on offer.

Except that no one laughs anymore today. Because German drivers rarely experiment when choosing the color of their new cars and opt for muted, unobtrusive colors. With a good 30 percent, grey/silver leads the color hit list ahead of black and white - and has been for 8 years.

Almost every third new car in Germany comes from the factory in a grey/silver color tone. But why is it like that? One reason might be that a shade of gray similar to white is often offered at no extra charge. But in the huge range of shades of gray, those that are free of charge are still in the minority.

If you trawl through the car manufacturers' configurators, you will see that almost every company has more than one gray paint on offer. From simple uni, metallic and pearl metallic paint to matt or two-tone versions, everything is included. The companies are quite creative when it comes to the names of the "Fifty shades of grey" offer. Racetracks, minerals, volcanoes, metals or mountains serve as a source of inspiration.

The prices for the shades of gray vary depending on the manufacturer, vehicle size and paint composition. Comparatively cheap are the VW Golf in "Moonstone Gray" for 380 euros, the Fiat 500 in "Pompei Gray" for 500 euros or the Opel Astra Sportstourer in "Vulcan Gray Metallic" for 600 euros. The Genesis G80 is also priced quite cheaply at just under 900 euros in "Makalu Grey". Audi with the A6 (Suzuka Gray Metallic for 3700 euros) or BMW with the 7 Series (Frozen Gray Metallic for 3800 euros) show that it is also significantly more expensive.

However, the upper end of the additional costs has not yet been reached. Mercedes calls, for example, for the special color "manufactory silicon gray uni" for the EQS 7000 euros, for the C-Class T-model around 4000 euros are due for "manufactory selenite gray magno". Jaguar takes around 7,500 euros for the special color "Eiger Grey" from the Bespoke individual program, for the "BMW Individual Two-Tone Paint Oxide Gray Metallic" you have to pay 12,000 euros for the 7 Series.

But other colors like black, white or blue and red can be expensive, but gray is still more popular. The great changeability of the gray color is the purchase criterion for the Mercedes design team. "Gray is the all-rounder among paints, but without making any compromises." You could also say that you don't do much wrong with this color selection. As with a classic (grey) business suit or costume, the wearer is always well dressed. From the designers' point of view, shades of gray also harmonize well with a wide variety of exterior variants and emphasize design edges or air outlets, for example. Attachments in high-gloss black, for example, are still clearly visible in darker gray tones.

The popularity also benefits from the higher resale value compared to more exotic colors. The fact that dirt is harder to spot on vehicles painted gray is certainly one of the reasons why people like to order this shade of paint.

By the way: In 2022, white was again by far the most popular color for new cars worldwide. According to the "Color Report for Automotive OEM Coatings" by the chemical company BASF, 39 percent of the vehicles produced in 2022 were painted in this color. Black (18 percent) follows in second place in the international color ranking, followed by gray (16 percent) and silver (8 percent). Grey/silver with a total of 24 percent therefore convinces many new car buyers around the world.