Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Car color trends and their message

I was driving home today, and took a route I haven't often taken. I just missed the light so that put me at the front of the line to see all the cross-traffic.

(I was once carpooling with some folks, and one commented to another about how they hated just missing the light. I told them, “I don't know about that because I like having a clear path in front of me for when the light turns green.” The immediate response to that was, “You are definitely someone who sees the glass as half full.” I hadn't thought about it quite like that, but it was an encouraging perspective.)

At one point, three or four black SUVs or their mid-range counterparts passed in front of me heading west. The burst of similarity got me thinking and wondering how common that color was. I started paying attention to the colors of all the vehicles passing in front of me in either direction.

I was a little bit surprised to find that many of the vehicles were on a spectrum between white and black—many white, many black, many silver, and various shades in between. Occasionally some would have a tint to them like champagne/tan. A few were red, and two out of three of those were muted. It was quite rare to see anything else.

I looked it up, and apparently this is a thing, not an anomaly from my afternoon observations or unique to the capital area.

Of the vehicles sold on CarMax, the colors were:
22.25% — Black
19.34% — White
17.63% — Gray
14.64% — Silver

That means 73.86% of cars are all directly on a line between black and white. Only 26.14% of vehicles have a distinct, non-black/white/grayish color!

All my cars have been blue. Buying pre-owned doesn't particularly lend to choosing the color. Maybe someday I'll pick green. Better yet would be a color that either doesn't require a lot of maintenance or is not especially prone to putting a lack of maintenance on display. Hence the tan and other colors in between like silver.

When I was growing up, one thing that we heard about the Cold War was how muted the colors were in the Soviet Union. Everything was some shade of gray, often made out of concrete.

Seeing something similar got me wondering if there's something similar being reflected in our color choices. The United States is still a free country. Do we still feel free individually? Is their social pressure to conform and not stand out? Is one of the easier ways to do that to pick muted colors for when people see us as we're out and about?

Once it was out from under the tyranny of communism, Edi Rama brought color back to Tirana, Albania, in a very bright and distinct way. (The first time this happened, it caused a traffic jam, much like the 3-D E.T. highway sign did in Orlando years ago.) A sense of freedom went up and crime went down.

May American's sense of freedom go up, and if that can or must be reflected in our choice of vehicle colors, so be it. Of course, our sense of freedom goes up when we are truly free, and true freedom individually is first found in Jesus Christ.

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