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Grey Britannia – the car colours that topped 2021 UK sales charts

While 2021 proved to be almost as unpredictable as 2020, one thing remained resilient: our favourite car colours

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British motorists bought more grey cars than any other colour in 2021, with the shade beating black and white to the top spot for the second year running. Despite car sales in 2021 having suffered a dent largely due to pandemic restrictions that were in place earlier in the year, grey cars remained dominant, accounting for more than 408,000 cars and a quarter of the market. That was a slight increase on the year before – suggesting our love of grey is only growing. Unless it’s related to the weather.

Black, the nation’s second-favourite colour of 2021, accounted for just over one-in-five sales – or almost 84,000 cars – while white came in third with 17% of the total mix. Monochrome cars continue to rule the roads, meaning more than one-in-six of all new cars were painted in one of these shades. Interestingly though, the colour blue edged closer to the top three, increasing in sales to fall just 2,638 cars short of third place.

The rest of the top 10 was largely unchanged from 2020, although British motorists’ appetites for green did grow to see it overtake orange for seventh place, with 17,927 cars painted in the colour across the year. It was the first time sales of green cars rose since 2015, with 24% more buyers opting for the colour than in the previous year – suggesting the #MakeGreenGreatAgain hashtag the circulated on social media might have had an impact.

Or, perhaps it had something to do with the positivity the colour green evokes these days, with ‘green’ cars, in the tailpipe emission-free sense, seeing a big boost through 2021. Battery electric and plug-in cars accounted for more than one in six registrations – up from around one-in-10 in 2020 and one-in-30 in 2019. Whether battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, petrol or diesel though, grey remained the colour of choice across all fuel types. Grey Britannia indeed.

At the most vibrant end of the car colour palette, gold, yellow and turquoise were the fastest-growing colours, with gold gaining in popularity by an impressive 232%, yellow growing in demand by a third and turquoise sales going up by a fifth. Although combined, these shades still accounted for just under 1%% of the total market.

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which totted up the colour figures, said: “2021 was anything but normal, but British drivers stuck to their familiar favourites of grey, black and white cars. But while last year’s new cars might share the same shades as previous years, under the bonnet there has been a real shift, with one in six buyers choosing to go green.

“With car registrations still low compared to pre-pandemic, helping even more drivers move to greener cars – whatever the actual colour – has never been more important. Incentives are helping move the market and should continue, but the speed of this shift to electric must be matched by an acceleration in the pace of charging infrastructure. Drivers should expect to be able to recharge irrespective of wherever they live, work or visit.”

Hawes’ comments are well-timed, because the UK recorded a 37% increase in publicly-available electric car chargers in 2021, with London seeing by far the biggest contribution to that – with Scotland coming in second. Handily, no matter where you live, cinch has a growing supply of electric cars ready to be delivered to your door. And many of them are painted grey, if that’s your thing.