White Car Syndrome.

White Car Syndrome.

Sorry, I lost patience after going back 20 pages for a Thread about colors (other than blue).

FYI. I was reading a magazine article by David Lachance in the February 2012 issue of Hemmings Sport and Export, page 8, and I thought I would share some info. This is not meant as a criticism of color choice offered by TM. It may shed some light and show how TM has offered an expanded color palate.

Recently, E.I. Dupont de Nemours and Company announced white is the fastest growing choice among colors in North America, rising to tie silver for first place. One year ago, white was tied for third place with grey (at 16%). Now white has climbed to 22%.

White is number 1 in: India, Japan, South Africa (40%). Dupont’s European color designer, Elke Dirks, thinks, “White is seen as an inspiration for the ecological megatrend in Europe, because it represents modern minimalism and future technology.” What the heck does that mean?

What comes after white and silver? Black (20%), Gray (13%), Red (7%), Blue (6%), Green (2%), yellow/gold (1%), others (2%).

Want to guess what the #1 selling ice cream is? Vanilla wins by a wide margin.

BYT | 13 March 2012

I also read before that women tend to select the color white over all colors. I also found this in a link, "White indicates a conservative nature and is a color suggestive of innocence and purity. This description might be a hard one to match with most drivers of white cars!" Which I could link the study that I read about women and cars painted white. Link went as far as to say that if you’re single, you have a greater chance of landing a girl if your car is painted white.

I have to admit that my first choice was Pearl White but because of the premium, I will stick with white for my car. Previous colors of my cars were black and midnight blue so I'm changing it up for that reason. I also will not go black leather interior because my Honda Accord V6 was black leather and I drove it for way too long. I'm also sick of the black leather interior but am not sure what to go with yet but I digress... :)

BYT | 13 March 2012

OK, this site is nowhere near politically correct and maybe offensive to some but it was the closest I could find to making my point so... for a lack of a better link, here you go!

petero | 14 March 2012

There are several practical reasons for choosing white. Hard to notice those small white scratches, light dust doesn’t show like on black, downplays dents, and is probably the safest color at night because it is most visible. However, my favorite non reason for choosing white is, in CA we are currently using severa white and black HOV (high occupancy vehicle) stickers for carpool lane access. White is the perfect color (non-color) for camouflaging these ugly sucker

Slightly off topic. All of the upcoming BMW EVs ,1 Series (BMW Leaf) are white with a light interior. Saw one yesterday with gray interior and gray geometric graphics. For my own edification, I will drive it tomorrow.

prash.saka | 14 March 2012

I will get the black. I am not too keen on the colors and my wife prefers "Any color other than white". So, that is set for me.

@petero, the reason why white is the most common color in India is because it the de-factor color for almost all cars. Any other color is a premium, and hence, costs more. (This is what I "think" is the reason).

~ Prash.

ThomasN | 14 March 2012

I don't remember where I read it, but white cars have a slightly higher average resale value.

EdG | 14 March 2012

Perhaps the trend is helped by all those MacBooks and iPhones in white. And I've been told that white is safer as seen by statisticians looking at accident reports. Not sure if the driver who picks white for a car is part of the issue.

Robert.Boston | 14 March 2012

Taxis here in Boston are (mostly) white; delivery vans are white; washing machines are white. For me, white doesn't bespeak a high-end car. It helps, of course, that we don't have the same issues with solar heating that sun-belt drivers face.

I'm dithering among black, blue, and green. My wife and I need to see real samples in the sunlight before we'll make that call!

petero | 14 March 2012

Robert.Boston. I wasn’t espousing white, I thought it was an interesting article to share. As mentioned my wife prefers the brown, I prefer black. With your sons whatever dark color you choose the car will stay clean- lucky you.

stevenmaifert | 14 March 2012

My previous car was a black body and black interior. My current car is a white body with tan interior. I was quite surprised by the difference in summertime solar heat absorption between the two vehicles. I live in the Southwest. My S will be white with the tan interior. The less I have to use the A/C to keep the interior cool, the farther I will be able to drive the car between charges. I guess the same could be said for black on black if you lived in a cold climate and had to heat the car for much of the year. TM says using higher consumption accessories like climate control will reduce range approximately five to ten percent. That could be a significant factor on a long drive between charging opportunities and in the end, increase the operating cost of the S by more frequent charging to replace the energy consumed by the heater or A/C. My point is that the body and interior color you choose does matter beyond esthetics, and if you live in a hot climate, white is a very logical choice in body color.

MitchL | 14 March 2012

Interesting -- my wife specifically told me "No white", and "No black." She was pretty direct about it... white gets dirty too easily, black gets too hot in the CA sun.

This also applies to the interior, so it really limits my choices... I've had gray/silver cars for the past 12 years, definitely need a change.

I think the white would look great, and maybe I could still convince her of that, but I think my choices have been made for me by process of elimination: Sig red + tan interior.

I'll definitely have a better idea this weekend, since I'm near the Santana Row store.


kevjo | 14 March 2012

Don't forget that white is the color most often chosen for fleet vehicles which skews the results of any "preference" data. Also, I've heard that insurance companies like white but not sure if this is actually true.

BYT | 14 March 2012

I know red is more expensive to insure and is more likely to be pulled over for a speeding ticket statistically speaking.

brianman | 14 March 2012

On sports cars, yes.

I'm not sure if it holds true for burgundy and sedans (though with Perf S you're pretty much stuck I think).

Maybe someone has formal statistics.

MitchL | 15 March 2012

Re: red cars

Sometimes I feel that my gray Odyssey is invisible. I'm kind of a stickler for following the speed limits (drives my wife insane) but on more than a few occasions I've had the car in front of me get picked off.

Good observation about the insurance though - I should call my ins co and ask.

Maybe I'm gray + piano + (off)white leather after all...


engle | 16 March 2012

BYT wrote:

I know red is more expensive to insure...

GEICO never asked me what colors my vehicles are to quote their insurance in Calif. Is it coded in the VIN? (There was a thread on that, and I recall not.)

My wife has typical "white car syndrome": She always only wants to buy: White, White, or White! (she's Taiwanese-American -- don't know the car color preferences over there). She married me, and I'm White, too. We even have white cabinets in our home -- which I think are atrocious and look like they belong in a medical office! She also kept all the walls painted white by the builder. BORING! (Naturally, she has a white iPhone, iPad 2 and netbook, too.)

So far, we've had the following white/gray leather vehicles:

1983 BMW 528e sedan
1984 Mercedes E320 sedan
2000 Mercedes ML320 SUV

The only times we didn't get white it simply wasn't available with the loaded options I wanted, e.g. a couple Jeep Cherokees in the 1990's (Metallic Blue and Black), and a Honda Ody soccer mom minivan (Silver) we only kept for a few years. She went along with my choice of black/black for a 2007 CLK 550 Cabriolet (4 years - my mid-life crisis car) to match its black soft top.

She also got stuck with black/black for our 2011 E350 Bluetec diesel sedan, because white didn't exist in the Western US with all the options we wanted, our CLK lease was expiring so no time to custom order, and the 24 mo. lease was a steal @ $592.43/mo fully-loaded including CA taxes. Now she just can't stand it anymore (BLACK) and so wants to replace it after only 16 months with... "WHITE"! what else?

Today we visited our local Benz store. First, she looked at Benz's "Artic" white and proclaimed: "it's not WHITE enough", so, instead:

"Diamond White Metallic" (+$1,515 like Tesla's "Pearl White") 2012 Mercedes ML350 Bluetec. This is one of the frunkless ICE alternatives to the Model X, except only a 5-seater. Their new GL that comes out this summer is a closer comparable with 7 seats. Anyway, fully-loaded the MLS is $66,340 MSRP, but we can buy it for $2,000 below "invoice" through USAA's program, which is only $59,759 (without sales tax and fees). We're thinking of leasing it for the next 24 months while we wait for Model X deliveries to begin in early 2014. It gets 20/27 MPG - not bad for a heavy ICE SUV, and diesel is now priced between regular and premium. Normally, we buy heavy SUVs to write them off in our business, but my wife smartly pointed out that we don't want to be "stuck" with an ICE long term, so should lease. She thinks there will be a transition to EV's, and ICE vehicle resale values will plummet, especially if gas prices at the pump keep trending upwards.

Anyway, we've delayed any decision on the fate of the black sedan until after I take her to see the "X" prototype and the 4 Signatures on Friday. If you're there early during Friday's session and see an Asian-American lady staring at the Pearl White Signature -- that's probably her! :-)

Thanks to my wife's syndrome, it should be easy to convince her to go along with my Model S Performance upgrade, since it will be either "WHITE" or "PEARL WHITE"!! :-) I'll use the alternate close I learned in a Dale Carnegie course too many years ago. Instead of asking her if we should buy the performance model, I'll simply ask: "Dear, would you prefer we get it in 'WHITE' or 'PEARL WHITE'?" Assume the "sale", and ask a simple question resulting from it.

Today she said we don't need to buy 2 Tesla's, an "S" and an "X", since we normally drive together anyway, and have old ICE back-ups. She thinks we should just wait for the "X", since it is more versatile. I tried to convince her we should get our "S" this year, regardless. Then, if the "S" is popular once normal non-EV-fanatical non-early-adopter people get to test drive it, I predicted that Tesla may end-up pre-reserving all of 2013's "S" production, too. TSLA = $100/share at end of 2013??? If that happens, and we (she) decided to switch to an "X" for 4x4 in early 2014, there will be very high resale value for our "S". Unfortunately, she didn't buy it...

Tom A | 16 March 2012

I normally despise white for a car because it normally screams corporate or gov't "fleet vehicle" in the US - plain and lame. However, for vehicles that are not sold for fleet use in the US, such as the high-end brands of Mercedes-Bens and Jaguar, those cars look very classy in white - they are distinctive enough in style that you do not, for even a second, mistake one for a white Chevy Malibu, Toyota Camry or Ford Escape that is owned and operated by the local utility or local gov't.

More importantly for EVs, white significantly reduces the A/C load in the summer. The Mythbusters tested two identical vehicles (model year, trim level, interior colors, configurations, etc., all identical), except that one had black paint and one had white paint (all from the factory, not an after-market job). The vehicles were placed in an open parking lot separate from each other and well away from poles, trees or buildings, facing the same direction, and left to sit in the San Fransisco sun all day. The temperature sensors were identical, calibrated models with digital readouts, the sensors were mounted on the driver's headrest facing forward, where the testers could read the temps every hour without opening the car doors.

The black car peaked at approx. 143F, while the white car peaked at approx. 129F. That means, not only is the air that much warmer in the black car, but the interior surfaces and such are essentially that hot, as well. So, that's a huge difference in cooling load to not only cool down the air but to cool down the surfaces that keep radiating the heat to the air that passes over them.

What difference it makes in actual energy consumption to cool it down, I don't know. Given the fact that A/C operation is estimated to dock as much as 10% of range during use, I'd be willing to wager that a white EV will be able to go farther than a black EV, all else being equal.

Brian H | 16 March 2012

Hm, wonder how "Silver" would have done in that test. In the middle? Or cooler?

Brian H | 16 March 2012

In winter, btw, I would expect the black car to be colder, as it radiates more, too. Sunlight coming in the windows would be converted to heat at a higher rate, but would be dumped faster, too.

EdG | 16 March 2012

@Brian H: So why does the black car radiate more in winter, yet absorb more in San Francisco sun?

Leofingal | 16 March 2012


Brian H | 17 March 2012

Absorptivity equals emissivity.
In winter, the heat source is internal. In summer, it's external.

So black is worse in summer, but it's also worse in winter. There may be points in the spring and fall when it's just right.


petero | 18 March 2012

What is black and white and red all over … 3 of the 4 colors on a Sig. “S”

Sorry, the anticipation is killing me!!!

cerjor | 19 March 2012

I want the Plano roof. Would that look better with black or white?

Teoatawki | 19 March 2012

You can see for yourself in the design studio. I think they both look very nice.

EdG | 25 March 2012

@Brian H: Tom A quoted a Mythbusters experiment with two cars, one black, one white, both sitting (off) in the sun. The black was hotter. I expect that if the same experiment was done on a sunny day in a cold winter spot, the black car would be warmer then, too.

Those of us who have entered a hot car on a sunny day know that the point of this discussion is to avoid that uncomfortable heat. Using the Model S remote control and with its infrared blocking glass (front, back and panoramic?) this won't be a significant issue. But, yes, a white car would use up less charge in getting cooler than a black one. Depending on how Tesla implements the climate control (e.g., does it flush the hot air out with external air by fan?), the amount of charge used could vary considerably, but for most cases, this is not an important issue: will anyone ever run out of charge before getting home because the car is black?

Your point that a black car would be colder in winter is dependent on the heat source being inside the car, which would occur once the car is "started" or running. I thank you and Leofingal for pointing out the emissivity concept, which I am still digesting. But I'm guessing the amount of heat lost to the winter environment due to your car being black (vs. white) while driving would be almost immeasurable in comparison to everything else happening. (E.g.: does the wiper speed affect the heat loss when it's raining?)

For me, the main difference is how often I would have to wash the car. And black cars need washing much more than white, IMO.

As of now, I've decided to solve this problem by getting the Sig Red, by deciding the amount of emissivity either way is not an issue, and because I'm hoping I like the color!

Robert.Boston | 25 March 2012

@engle: (late reply) If you really want the X, tell your wife (truthfully) "Tesla hasn't said if the X will be available in white -- so far, it's only in Titanium and Dark Bay."

Sudre_ | 25 March 2012

I am still curious about the black being colder in winter which Brain suggests. I do not see why black would suddenly start deflecting sunlight because it's cold out at a higher ratio than white. The black car should still be warmer than the white just not as extreme as in summer. The sunlight is still an external source of heat no matter what time of year it is.

Typically it takes more electricity to heat the car up in general than it does to cool it off. If the interior is 120 degrees and you want it at 70 you can dissipate about 20 degrees just by opening the windows. If the car is 20 degrees and you want it at 70 you can't open the windows and gain heat since it is only 20 degrees out.

BYT | 25 March 2012

Problem is, I fell in love with the black nappa leather with the red trim on the Model S Performance on the Design Studio so I guess I'll be taking the performance hit to keep my car cool. I don't mind heat so much however, it's the cold that I can't tolerate!

EdG | 25 March 2012

@Sudre_: "black being colder in winter":

If the interior of the car is warm but the outside is cold, then eventually the body of the car will be warmed by the car's heater. The heat conducted to the inside of that black body (nerd pun intended) will radiate that heat faster to the outside than a white body would.

Given the interior wall of the car and the space between the interior finish and the exterior body acts as a significant insulator, and the slow rate of radiation from the car, I don't see this as important in making a decision on color, especially for cold climates.

Robert.Boston | 25 March 2012

And on sunny, cold days (yes, we do have those!), the black paint will absorb extra solar radiation.

brianman | 25 March 2012

@BYT - "I'll be taking the performance hit to keep my car cool"
Nice double meaning there. :P

BYT | 25 March 2012

Thanks brianman, I have my moments... :D

Brant | 25 March 2012

Found this info on Wikipedia regarding car color and safety:

Vehicle colour
A Swedish study found that pink cars are involved in the fewest and black cars are involved in the most crashes (Land transport NZ 2005). In Auckland New Zealand, a study found that there was a significantly lower rate of serious injury in silver cars; with higher rates in, brown, black, and green cars. The Vehicle Colour Study, conducted by Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) and published in 2007, analysed 855,258 accidents occurring between 1987 and 2004 in the Australian states of Victoria and Western Australia that resulted in injury or in a vehicle being towed away.[14] The study analysed risk by light condition. It found that in daylight black cars were 12% more likely than white to be involved in an accident, followed by grey cars at 11%, silver cars at 10%, and red and blue cars at 7%, with no other colours found to be significantly more or less risky than white. At dawn or dusk the risk ratio for black cars jumped to 47% more likely than white, and that for silver cars to 15%. In the hours of darkness only red and silver cars were found to be significantly more risky than white, by 10% and 8% respectively. However, no study on the relation between car color and safety is scientifically conclusive. [15]

EdG | 25 March 2012

We do know that those colors were not randomly assigned to drivers. It is not unreasonable to think that those who pick pink for a car color will drive differently than those who pick black.

brianman | 25 March 2012

"Polling of drivers found that pink cars are involved in fewer accidents* because they are given a wide berth because [a] like 'student driver' vehicles people are wary of them and [b] other drivers don't want pink paint on their vehicles."

All good studies need footnotes:
"* Note that this was direct accidents with the pink vehicle. Some polled reported that there were accidents of nearby vehicles as they were distracted by the pink vehicle."


Peak Oil bruin | 25 March 2012

Saw the pearl white with pano roof last week at the Oak Brook store. The pano roof on a white vehicle almost achieves a convertible car image as the pano can 'disappear' under certain conditions, and other times be a bold contrast. I'm not paying more for the pearl, but white with pano and gray leather with lacewood is now my preference.

WolfenHawke | 25 March 2012

Several historic and some unproven reasons.

* white goods (appliances) are cheaper if just painted plain white -- this doesn't necessarily apply to cars which can have special paint processes (eg. tri-color, or pearl white)
* about 20 years ago there was a study that noted white was the most visible color for cars and thus safest -- not sure the validity of this though as I read a couple years ago of another color that was being pushed for safety (yellow), and now it seems to be silver -- how does this change? I suspect originally, it was just a statistic of colors of cars in accidents and either that has changed (naturally), or now we are just seeing opinions.
* dark glossy black is very difficult to stay sharp -- static attracted dust or dried minerals from rain water show up as if they were white -- about 2hours after you just washed and waxed the car
* white and lighter colors do look better for longer after a car wash
* white will reflect more heat when parked in the sun -- likely just something good for the paint as the absorption or reflection isn't enough to impact the cabin temperatures

* black cars look sweet at night (can't see the dust)
* clean black cars look sweet always
* black cars with smoked windows have a classy aire

harryjsommer | 25 March 2012

According to one study, white and silver cars are two percent more 'fuel' efficient than black ones. Translates to six miles :-)

EdG | 25 March 2012

From the description, I can't tell if the 2% would apply to normal use of a car. It might only apply if you live in Arizona and keep your car parked outside and only start driving after the car heats up and you don't go very far.

Anyway, it's clear that in hot, sunny climes a silver or white car would be more efficient regarding AC use, not less.

Brian H | 26 March 2012

In sunlight, the interior of the car is more heated by sunlight through the glass than conducted through the body. So even in winter, the primary source of heat is "interior". So I suspect that color of seats etc. has at least as much impact as body color.

Michael37 | 29 March 2012

I wish I knew where this notion that white cars show dirt comes from. When I was a teenager, both my parents' cars were white (BMW's "Alpine White"). It was my job to wash them. I was always amazed to find how much dirt came off of a car that looked perfectly clean. The white just got... dimmer. It never looked dirty unless you had kicked up a lot of mud or something.

I will be doing white on my Model S, I'm pretty sure. I'm waiting to see the standard and premium white options in person before deciding, but I sure like the fancy one. I really like the silver option as well, but I've been driving a silver-ish car for the last 10 years, so I think it's time for a change.

Brian H | 30 March 2012

It's kind of the exterior and interior are opposites. Shiny surface in bright light, dirt on black is light; on white, it's pale grey at worst. On matte flexible interior surface, it's dark. So the most dirt-hiding combo is white exterior, black interior!!