In Philadelphia, they've got the blues. In Cincinnati, they've got -- well -- the reds.
Cincinnati is the top market for red cars in the U.S., while Philly buyers prefer blue, according to sales data released recently by Ford Motor Co.
Sometimes, color preferences are logical. Seattleites like the colors of the Northwest -- green and blue. Buyers in hotter cities, such as Phoenix and Dallas, like white cars, while buyers in colder cities, like Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Detroit, are partial to red, according to Ford's internal data. No-nonsense New Yorkers like black and gray.
- The top markets for various vehicle colors for Ford cars:
- Black: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Detroit
- Blue: Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Seattle, Detroit
- Brown: Boston, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Chicago, Pittsburgh
- Gold: Orlando, Miami, Pittsburgh, Denver, Washington
- Gray: New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh
- Green: Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
- Red: Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Detroit, Kansas City, Pittsburgh
- Silver: San Francisco, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Washington
- White: Phoenix, Memphis, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas
Sometimes, the preferences are a puzzle. Boston is the top market for both brown and green cars, for example, while San Franciscans like silver. In Florida, they like gold.
Overall, silver was the most popular color in the U.S. this year, according to Pittsburgh-based paint maker PPG Industries. Twenty percent of U.S. cars are silver. White finished second, and black was third.
It may seem trivial, but the information is critical to the company and its dealers. Ford says it analyzes the data carefully to figure out which vehicle configurations will be the top sellers in any region.
Ford says the correct vehicle mix results in better sales for dealers and better customer service, since customers can find the vehicles they want more quickly.
For PPG, the news is how automakers are using different color palettes, depending on the size and styling of a vehicle.
"All manufacturers are focusing more than ever on brands and establishing the distinct characteristics of their own vehicles. One way to do that is with unique colors," says Jane Harrington, manager of color styling and automotive coatings at PPG.
For example, as more subcompact cars are introduced, customers will see brighter, bolder colors, partly because a large percentage of those buyers are under 30 and partly because the body designs of smaller cars allow for brighter greens, yellows and blues, Harrington says.
She says PPG is showcasing colors it thinks will be popular in 2012 and 2013 model-year cars and trucks. These include champagne silver (with a slight copper-beige cast), outer space blue (with a sparkle effect), haute couture (a sparkly blue mid-coat over a black base coat) and quantum red (an almost neon-like shade for interior applications) -- as well as silver, whites and blacks with enhancing effects and tints.
Change and choice are key because tastes change: Just 15 years ago, in 1994, according to PPG, green was the most popular color and only 8 percent of buyers chose silver.