British drivers doubled down on their preference for monochrome cars in 2021.

Grey continues to increase its dominance as the UK’s favourite new car colour for the fourth year in a row. Official figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal that lockdown blues continued the grey outlook. During a year of pandemic-related disruptions, 408,155 grey cars were sold, up 2.8% and accounting for a quarter (24.8%) of the market.

Black, the most popular car paint in Britain from 2009 to 2012, wrapped 20.5% of passenger cars, while white was in third place (17.2%), meaning UK drivers were most likely to choose a monochrome car for the 11th year running.

More than six in 10 (62.4%) of all new cars joining British roads in 2021 were painted in one of these shades. However, blue edged closer to the top three, increasing its sales (1.4%) for the first time in five years and trailing just 2,638 units behind white.

The rest of the top 10 remained largely unchanged from 2020, although green overtook orange to gain seventh place. Sales of green cars rose for the first time since 2015, with 24.0% more buyers opting for the colour than in the previous year.

Clouds and sunshine

A record number of drivers also opted to go ‘green’ under the bonnet. Battery electric and plug-in cars account for more than one in six registrations – up from around one in 10 in 2020 and one in 30 in 2019. But whatever the fuel colour, grey was the colour of choice for bodies across all fuel types.

White was the most popular shade for mini-sized and sports cars, while larger luxury saloons and executive cars remained mostly black.

At the niche end of the colour palette, gold, yellow and turquoise were the fastest growing colours. Gold manages to more than triple its appeal (up 231.8%), yellow up by a third (31.3%) and turquoise up by a fifth (19.2%). Perhaps more energetic in palette, they accounted for less than one percent of the market (0.9%).

“2021 was anything but normal, but British drivers stuck to their familiar favourites of grey, black and white cars”.SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, believes what’s more important is the drive towards more environmentally friendly power sources. “Under the bonnet there has been a real shift, with one in six buyers choosing to go green”.

Overcast outlook

A non-monochrome colour has not been among the UK’s overall top three since blue in 2010.

Consumer preference for grey, which comes in many varying shades, can be attributed to a wide range of reasons; it can be a sleek and deeper tone than other shades, is well-suited to black trims and darker wheels and offers an attractive compromise between the also-popular black and white, with wider resale appeal than brightly coloured cars, so a potentially ‘safer’ choice, especially as it reduces the visibility of dirt more than the other shades.