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Are All the Unsold New Cars White?
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The L.A. Times has some striking drone pictures of all the unused rental cars that are being stashed in the Dodger Stadium parking lot and, below, all the unsold new Toyotas at the Toyota lot at the Port of Long Beach:

Are the vast majority of new cars white (or perhaps silver)? In this picture of over 600 new cars, I see one red vehicle and one blue one. But I also see a number of cars that appear to have a very light roof and hood but perhaps more color around the sides. Is there some new paint job where the roof and hood is white but the sides are blue?

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  1. JMcG says:

    California and Florida always seemed to have a higher proportion of white cars than anywhere else. A lot of factories ship cars with a tinted plastic film on the vertical surfaces. I assume that it’s to help prevent dings and scratches while in transit.

    • Agree: Jack Armstrong
    • Thanks: Bardon Kaldian
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Jack D
    , @res
  2. anonymous[204] • Disclaimer says:

    Possibly the white plastic protective sheets on hood and roof that the manufacturer uses for shipping & truck transport .

    • Agree: Lockean Proviso
  3. Kyle says:

    That’s just some sort of protective wrap to protect the paint. But I have noticed that most new cars on the road tend to be black white or silver. Less people are buying primary colors.

  4. Corporate vehicles are usually white. It’s easier to slap on a random logo with a neutral colour.

    • Replies: @Stebbing Heuer
  5. A lighter colour helps keep the temperature bearable in warmer climes, no?

    • Replies: @Paleo Liberal
  6. danand says:

    “Is there some new paint job where the roof and hood is white but the sides are blue?“

    Shipping film:


    Tesla’s are stacking up in all the empty lots around here; and the plants only been open a week. Perhaps the transporters haven’t returned to work in mass yet?

    • Replies: @prosa123
  7. Mike Tre says:

    Maybe the white ones aren’t wearing masks:

    • LOL: vhrm
  8. @The Alarmist


    Here in the upper Midwest darker colors are more popular than in the South. Keeps the cars warmer in the winter; melts the ice and snow faster.

  9. anon[869] • Disclaimer says:


    No doubt those cars are going to be running down innocent black joggers.

    The white nationalists must be stopped.

  10. Truth says:

    Uh oh. The world is turning against white. I think it’s taken up disproportionate space in the car lots and ads for way too long now.

  11. You may be seeing a removable protective cover that is often left on cars during shipping. It’s a lighter color.

  12. CPK says:

    White cars, counter-intuitively, are easier to keep looking clean. Dust, pollen, bird droppings, water spots, small scratches, etc. don’t stand out as much. Lower contrast between the blemish and the underlying paint job.

    I’m guessing there’s also an “everyone’s second choice” element. It will be harder to sell or resell a vehicle if it’s a distinctive color that only a smaller group of people want. More people are willing to buy bland colors. Someone might prefer an orange car but be willing to live with a white one, usually not the other way around.

    Demand for these bland colors will tend to snowball, because the buyer considers not just what he wants, but what he thinks future resale buyers will want. This would be especially true for fleet vehicles (including rental cars) that are often liquidated and replaced every few years.

    • Replies: @Jus' Sayin'...
  13. That’s just a telephoto lens effect.

    • Agree: Jack Armstrong
  14. Can’t they arrange the cars to spell out something?

    • LOL: James Speaks
  15. #CarsTooWhite or #BlackCarsMatter ?

  16. prosa123 says:

    Shipping cars is more difficult for Tesla than for other auto companies as their plant in northern California is the only auto assembly factory in the US without rail service. When it was under prior ownership it had such service, but when Tesla was unable to negotiate special low freight rates during its startup phase it severed the rail lines leading into the factory in what can only be described as an act of corporate pique.

    • Replies: @Lurker
  17. Lurker says:

    Years ago I went on a tour of a Ford factory. The guide pointed out that it was sited according to Henry Ford’s stipulation that all Ford plants must have both sea and rail access.

    • Replies: @black sea
    , @Reg Cæsar
  18. Your observation per white / silver cars is correct with the caveat of beige / tans… You only see bright colors for the most part on muscle / sports cars IE: Mopar neon green, Corvette red etc… Of course the “men in black” have the market cornered on “Fed black”!

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  19. Jack D says:

    Actually it’s the horizontal surfaces to prevent bird shit, etc. from damaging the paint. If you zoom way in on the photo you’ll see that many of the “white” cars have sides that are red, blue etc. while the ones that stand out as having a color other than white are merely missing their white film on the roof and hood.

    • Agree: JMcG
    • Replies: @JMcG
  20. JMcG says:
    @Jack D

    Posting pre-coffee. You are absolutely correct.

  21. res says:

    Good point. White and silver are common in general, but that is not enough to explain the photo.

    Here are some 2012 statistics.

    2018 data available at

    White is even more popular in China. 58% at that link. Compared to 38% worldwide and 29% in North America.

  22. It’s another old photography trick: protective white film.

  23. Anonymous[186] • Disclaimer says:

    Is there some new paint job where the roof and hood is white but the sides are blue?

    Volvo XC40, their compact SUV, allows you to mix and match body color with a contrasting roof color of white or black. I just drove one for a few days. I was impressed.

  24. Based on an authoritative annual survey of car color trends, white is the clear global winner in the 2019 color race—for the ninth consecutive year—with 38% of vehicles manufactured in that color, followed in second place by black at 19%, gray at 13%, and silver at 10%.

    The order in North America is slightly different, with 29% white, 19% black, 17% gray, and 11% silver. Only in Europe is white in second place with 24% of all cars gray, and 23% white.

  25. @CPK

    “White cars, counter-intuitively, are easier to keep looking clean. Dust, pollen, bird droppings, water spots, small scratches, etc. don’t stand out as much. Lower contrast between the blemish and the underlying paint job.”

    My sister made the same point and based on her advice I chose white for my new car. It also made it easy to pick a name for her, Bianca.

    • Replies: @Jack Armstrong
  26. black sea says:

    If a factory had rail access, wouldn’t it necessarily have sea access, via the rail system, as well?

    • Replies: @Lurker
  27. Hertz is selling off 20 Z06 corvettes and they all appear to be yellow.

  28. Anonymous[413] • Disclaimer says:

    1. More easily visible, passive safety.
    2. Less need for AC especially entering a parked car in the sun, not roasting inside.
    3. Easier to keep looking clean.

  29. @Lurker

    Years ago I went on a tour of a Ford factory. The guide pointed out that it was sited according to Henry Ford’s stipulation that all Ford plants must have both sea and rail access.

    That’s part of the same reason John D Rockefeller chose Cleveland over the more convenient Pittsburgh his competitors based their HQs at. Pittsburgh had a single rail line, Cleveland, three and a lake. A much better negotiating position.

    Can you name those competitors? I sure can’t.

  30. johnmark7 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Last two times I was at a dealer to buy a new vehicle (Ford, Honda, VW) there were no models beside black, silver, white or sand (tan). I wanted blue or red or anything but plain and was told that was a special order and I’d have to buy full price plus extra. To save money, we got to the boring vehicle.

  31. They are trying to dull us to death. Look at the architecture. The city planning. The music. The art. The writing. Dull dull dull. They figure if you’re all dulled out you won’t hang them from the lampposts. Not only are the cars painted dull. They are all the same shape. Wha’ ever happen to tailfins?

    Ah, for the fifties, with its yellow cadillacs and bright cherry red 57 chevies.

    • Replies: @Joe Stalin
  32. J1234 says:

    I like white cars because they reflect sunlight and therefore get less radiant heat in the summer. Wouldn’t surprise me if warmer climates sold more white cars as JMcG said. White cars also show less dings and dents than darker colored cars.

  33. Mobi says:

    Latest-model RAV4 (Toyota’s bestseller) indeed comes in a two-tone, white roof option.

  34. The chemical constituents of some colors are more expensive than others. Doesn’t matter much when buying consumer level quantities of paint, but at the industrial level it can make a difference. Lower line vehicles have more basic colors for market psychology reasons as well as the fact that they are cheaper to produce.

  35. Anonymous[186] • Disclaimer says:

    I like the Jaguar F-Type Project 7. Reasonably priced for what you get, and it really turns heads at Whole Foods.

    Aside from white, you can get it in



    And Steve McQueen Green

  36. Svigor says:

    Yes, white and silver are the go-to colors for cars. They hide dirt well. Black looks great, but you can see every water spot and mote of dust.

    It’s like black t-shirts vs white. Rarely have to break out the lint roller for the white tees.

  37. Anon[140] • Disclaimer says:

    We just bought a new car, in Japan. We didn’t have a car since living in Tokyo is like living in Manhattan, and you don’t have much use for one because trains and subways go everywhere, rentals are easy and cheap, taxis are clean and efficient to the point that Uber has not taken off, delivery is great, places like home centers will just lend you a car, and everything is available in local neighborhoods within walking distance anyway.

    But when I saw the coronavirus, I suspected that cars might be hard to buy very soon, public transportation is not a good idea, bulk shopping and shopping at more distant stores might come to be necessary, getting medical help may require travel beyond our local clinics and hospitals, and Covid lepers might find any sort of travel hard given the limited number of hazmat lepermobiles.

    When we bought the car, the color decision was among darkish colors including black at no extra charge, white and silver colors at an extra charge, or white plus a colored roof at an even higher price. White paint is somehow trickier, just as the white iPhones were trickier and delayed when first introduced. (We got white with a colored roof, for parking lot visibility.)

    At this point we were told we had to wait a month. Would they even be open for business in a month? Would some part made in China not be available? My visible dissatisfaction prompted an offer to rent us a car for a month, not so appealing, and then an offer to lend us a Nissan Leaf electric car for a month, insurance included, no rental fee, which we took.

    But before those offers materialized, I asked if they just had something on the lot or elsewhere that was more or less like what we wanted that we could just buy for immediate delivery: The answer was no, that never happened these days. They had test-drivable demos they didn’t sell as new, but otherwise all cars sold in Japan are in effect finished after being bought. This includes certain options and the paint. So I imagine that new cars in storage all have some sort of primer and not the final paint job?

    • Replies: @Jack D
  38. Jack D says:

    all cars sold in Japan are in effect finished after being bought. This includes certain options and the paint. So I imagine that new cars in storage all have some sort of primer and not the final paint job?

    You imagine wrong. The supply lines in Japan are short so that your car is custom made for you – that’s why it takes a month. It used to be that way in the US also. BUT the supply lines to Japan were long so they would bring in well optioned cars and you would pick one that was on the lot. Then American dealers copied the model (also goes well with the child-like American “buy it today and drive it home” mentality ) so now it’s normal in the US to buy a car off the lot. If you want to custom order one with the exact options that you want and wait a month (or longer if it is a Japanese car) the dealers look at you as if you have three heads and they’d rather sell you one that is already on the lot anyway because they are paying “floor plan” (interest) on those and need to get them off their lot. I’ve tried to convince dealers that it’s more profitable for them for me to custom order a car – all they do is send in an order slip, no financial risk, but they don’t see it that way.

    It’s very difficult to paint a car once it has been built.

    • Disagree: Jack Armstrong
  39. After 30 years as a Manhattanite who paid zero attention to car trends, I moved to California and was amazed at how colorless the world of cars has become. Three out of four cars out here are either black, white or silver/gray. I’ve got snapshots of traffic and parking areas where all the cars are black, white or silver/gray. Cars back in the ‘50s thru ‘70s were much more colorful. How, why and when did this taste-shift happen?

    When it came time for me to buy my own car, I got it in red. Livens up the streets I’m on and is very easy to spot in parking lots.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  40. Speaking of rental cars, is this as big of a deal as it sounds?

    Hertz filing for bankruptcy as early as this weekend

  41. @Paleo Retiree

    I think Mazda sells a lot of cars in red.

  42. @obwandiyag

    “They are all the same shape. Wha’ ever happen to tailfins?”

    I recall an editorial in an industrial trade magazine decades ago where the editor said all contemporary cars resemble bars of used soap. Guess that’s the penalty for aerodynamic efficiency.

    On the other hand, you can have some beautiful art deco era streamlined cars:

  43. @Jus' Sayin'...

    Have two white cars in my household “Becky” and “Karen”.

    • LOL: Jim Don Bob
  44. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    In fact, the Japanese “invented” a paint system that uses CMYK tints and a mixer head that can mix a custom color as it goes along and there are theoretically millions of colors that could be selected. The head can also be designed to put in metallics, pearls, etc. On the clearcoat they can do candies or tints as well and can shade as they go along, meaning that two tone paint jobs or even gradual shading is possible. The Japanese never implemented as their ficus groups told them consumers don’t really want wholly custom paint, but rather prefer the ability to select from a limited number of preselected colors.

    Painting cars after they are built is not only possible, it’s how Rolls Royce did things for a century, and their paint jobs were generally considered “very good” not California high end concours restorer quality, but the best of any production car.

    It’s heinously expensive because painting cars takes a little genuine skill and talent, and a lot of scutwork, but you pay for the scutwork at the skilled labor rate. using apprentices at McDonald’s wages to do the scutwork supervised by a master body man and having him do the detail work would make it, not cheap, but a lot cheaper.

    You used to be able to get mestizo lowrider guys to do magnificent non-lowrider paint work on the side, but the really talented ones have moved upscale and the younger people have abandoned it for greener pastures.

    Automotive paint systems have got a lot more expensive as well. If you just want something good for a few years there are workarounds, but modern basecoa clearcoat materials costs can be ridiculous. EPA and OSHA and insurance costs have skyrocketed as well. But in many cities, asking around and finding old Larry who has a booth in his garage and works for cash can get you a very impresive job and there are some budget single coat systems that look pretty good. I had a Suburban (the one with the NV4500 and the neighbor-assailing 4-53T Detroit) that was painted with Imron in TWA Red. I didn’t do the paint, I have no idea what the guy paid, or indeed if he paid. It wasn’t coincidence that TWA mechanics had red hot rods and old pickups, Pan Am guys had blue ones and Braniff guys had, well, any color you could possibly imagine, all sort of pastel-y. The guy who built that Burb was the son of a TWA vice president.

    For a beater, the low buck approach is tractor paint. Most tractor/ag companies use a Valspar OEM product that is actually pretty good when used with a little hardener, but the color choices are limited and obvious to anyone familiar with farms what they are. JD Vintage Green is a pretty good British racing green and they have a white you can lighten up the modern green with to pretty well nail the Lotus green and yellow.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  45. @Jack D

    I’ve tried to convince dealers that it’s more profitable for them for me to custom order a car – all they do is send in an order slip, no financial risk, but they don’t see it that way.

    This isn’t a true statement.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  46. JMcG says:

    I bought my old Triumph Bonneville from a guy who worked for Boeing. It was white, SAC anti-flash white I hope.

  47. Anonymous[968] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    Car stealerships would prefer to have every car to be saleable to every customer, so will fight any new idea that isn’t universal in its appeal. Musk was right that Tesla needed to sell direct.

    The franchised stealership is an idea that should at this point die out. It made sense in 1930. It even made sense in 1970. But not now.

    I should be able to buy a car made out of largely off the shelf parts direct from a manufacturer and take it to any of several independent garages for warranty service. Cars are a thoroughly solved engineering problem now. I like them just how they are and don’t want change. Even the tech lovers admit a 2008 Honda or Toyota was, new, a better car than a 2020.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  48. @JMcG

    Because unless @Jack D is paying sticker for his custom car, the dealer wants to move inventory. Every car that remains on the lot is an expense. Processing custom orders doesn’t do much for the bottom line unless the customer is so desperate that he pays the sticker price. Furthermore, dealerships make money on financing. I took a loan from them the last time I bought a car just so I could get a lower price.

    • Thanks: JMcG
  49. @VinnyVette

    When the new Ford Taurus came out in 1996, its most popular color was Forest Green. I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a car in that color.

  50. Lurker says:
    @black sea

    True but one could argue road access alone connects to sea and rail. It also implies competition between different transport modes and greater flexibility.

  51. @Anonymous

    Even the tech lovers admit a 2008 Honda or Toyota was, new, a better car than a 2020.

    I bought a 2014 Honda CRV with 31k miles last year. I had the money to buy a new one, but hated all the crap they’ve put on the new models, especially the engine turn off when you come to a stop.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  52. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jim Don Bob

    Vehicles seem to have up and down cycles for long term desirability and general goodness. 1966,1967 were peak years for American cars for quite a while as safety and emissions laws came in and caused severe issues. By the early to mid 80s, the new electronics were debugged enough that cars were actually equaling and in some ways bettering the pre-emissions models, with 5 speed manual or 4 speed lockup automatics and well debugged EFI. They slumped a little with more regulations and higher standards but came back and by the early 200s you had a car that was clearly more reliable, drivable, had much better suspensions, better rustproofing, modern paint held up better, etc, etc.

    Constantly tightening regulations brought in crap like stop/start, new transmissions each generation of which required several model years to debug and then were yet again replaced, etc.

    Mechanically, Detroit had cars pretty well perfected by the mid-60s, rustproofing was poor, engine controls crude, etc, but the engines, transmissions, rear ends were thoroughly debugged IF you got the good guy models used in taxis, cop cars, Town Cars, etc. It took them a while to make a good FWD car, although the boring old lady Chrysler K cars were actually very reliable, being overbuilt. If emissions, CAFE and ‘safety’ regulations were given a 20 year freeze we’d have a fifteen year Golden Age of excellent cars again.

    Even Japan can’t keep up. A 2020 Toyota new is not the car a 2010 Toyota was new, and anyone who says otherwise is triventriliquating and knows it. They can, however, do better at changing compliance than Detroit because of their cost structure being a lot different. They have socialized medicine and no UAW, being a homogenous racial country.

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