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TECH NEWS: Car colour choices

Why is 2017 colour of the year not hot in UG?

Since the renowned car colour company, Axalta Coating Systems of New York, USA announced its winning car colour of 2017 in January; I have been searching our roads to see how it is doing in Kampala. Well, based on my rather rudimentary survey, the hot colour of 2017 is doing very, very badly in Kampala. And I personally do not find it surprising because the colour is … Gallant Gray!

You possibly have never seen it, let alone heard of it. It is a gray with very light hints of green, blue, and silver; something like the skin of a fish that has stayed too long in the fridge.

That is not how Axalta describes it, of course. For Axalta, Gallant Gray is “a luxurious color enhanced by blue and silver flakes that produce a unique sparkle effect and dark undertones that enrich the finish, adding sophistication”.

Axalta designers picked the colour after extensive research that found a high percentage of the market interested in “a neutral palette”. They concluded that “adding slight hints of hues can add life to these colors”. Gallant Gray is also described as a complex color, dark in value, with various sparkling flakes that add depth and color.

So what is the hottest colour in Uganda?

To revert to my rudimentary survey skills once again, that has to be white. In which case, Uganda would be backing a global preference scale.

According to Axalta, white has been the top car colour for the last 10 years around the world dominated by a preference for neutral colours. In number two position is black, although that is not quite popular in Uganda because of its tendency to become a heat magnate.

Instead, Ugandans appear to be following another global trend; of showing a rising preference for gray shades.

Not much research has been done about how Africans, let alone Ugandans, pick their car colours, but a survey reported in South Africa in 2015 offers some hints.

It quoted data from Lightstone that car buyers on the Southern tip of the continent are apparently still relatively conservative when it comes to colour choices, with strong preference for lighter colours.

Whereas in 2010 the three most popular choices where white, silver, and black, in 2015 the top three were white, silver, and grey.

White overtook silver in 2011 as the most preferred vehicle color preference. Since then, white has continued to gain popularity on all vehicle types in most regions, while silver has continued to decline.”

The report shows in Africa, 46% prefer white more than in other parts of the world.

White is slightly more popular among male buyers – 57 percent versus 43 percent in the case of females – with silver almost the same at 56 to 44.

Apparently, light-coloured cars project a no-fuss ‘less is more’ message, and only the more adventurous buyers go for other colours.

Blue is in fourth and red in sixth, and more popular among girls than boys – 53 to 47 percent.

The report reads: “Lightstone data shows that women have a stronger tendency towards brighter, more individual colours – and that doesn’t only apply to cars! – while men in general (grown-up ones, anyway!) steer towards quieter, less conspicuous shades.”

But for both genders, deeper, more off-trend colours make up only a small percentage of the total, for very practical reasons. They need more maintenance than lighter coloured cars to keep them looking good; minor scratches are more noticeable and need more frequent touching up.

Light-coloured cars heat up less in the sun, making them more comfortable in our hot climate – or less costly to cool, as most cars today have air-conditioning.

Darker coloured cars are often difficult to sell, their paint more difficult to match and more expensive, making collision repairs more costly. Lighter or brighter-coloured cars are also more visible on the road, and are thus less likely to be involved in a crash during daylight than black, blue, grey, and green cars.

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