Picking a colour is one of the most exciting bits of speccing a company car, but there are plenty pitfalls
Car colour is an area of potential disaster if, come defleet time, something that seemed like a good idea when you let a driver go for it three years ago is suddenly looking less clever when it has to find owner number two.
There’s a reason that almost a quarter of new cars were grey last year, with white and black completing a podium that accounted for more than 60% of new cars. Further down the top 10, 0.42% of new cars were yellow, 0.89% green and 1.26% orange, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
“Decisions made when purchasing a new vehicle could be the difference between making or losing hundreds of pounds at resale time,” says Jon Wheeler, vehicle valuation services team manager at CDL Vehicle Information Services.
“In more recent years, some businesses have revisited fleet policies to minimise risk; for example beige, yellow, green or orange may be removed as options for drivers as these can be tough to remarket.”
But he says it’s also car-specific. “Vibrant colours can suit some smaller cars and SUVs, whereas executive saloons are safer in
blacks, blues greys and whites.”
Aston Barclay managing director Martin Potter agrees, saying: “Bright yellow, orange and green limits your buyer base, except when on an Audi TT, BMW M4 or Porsche Cayman”.
He says silver is a go-to colour on some models, as it suits different shapes and sizes. Potter describes metallic paint as “essential”, especially on premium cars that may struggle to sell in flat colours.
He adds: “Range Rover drivers tends to demand something more reserved in dark silver, dark green or black, while smaller cars like the Mini in a sensible colour with the Chili pack always make the best return.”
TWO-TONE IS MUSIC TO BUYERS’ EARS
Increasing numbers of affordable new cars are being launched with the option of a different roof colour, with small crossover models being the key exponents.
“They certainly stand out on a forecourt and appeal to a wide demographic,” says CDL Vehicle Information Services’ Jon Wheeler.
However, he also warns that some manufacturers offer “colour combinations that should be avoided, so it is important to keep a wide berth of the more garish combos”.
BIGGER RIMS ARE A WHEELY GOOD IDEA
BCA’s Stuart Pearson says that choosing the right size of wheel is important, as it’s one of the first thing that pulls customers in.
Aston Barclay’s Martin Potter agrees, commenting that 4×4 models should have a minimum of 20-inch wheels, and the used market’s view is “the bigger the wheels, the better”.
But CDL’s Jon Wheeler points out that with any wheel size upgrades, the running cost impact in terms of increased CO2 figures, lower fuel economy and increased tyre costs need to be weighed up against potential RV benefits.
“If you made a decision based on the maths, you would not upgrade the alloys,” he says. “But if you look at the model and consider driver choice, model appeal and typically a better-looking fleet, you wouldn’t blame a company for allowing upgrades.”
BCA’s COO UK Remarketing Stuart Pearson gives his thoughts on how colour choice affects used value
1. Colour is important.
Professional buyers know that colour is important to motorists and will focus their attention on those cars offering the best combination of colour, condition, age, mileage and specification. Retail dealers look for a variety for their forecourts to ensure that they have something for everyone.
2. Don’t limit your options Subtle is sound.
We see larger volumes of metallic blues, greys and silvers in the remarketing arena. These colours work well on bigger saloons, estates and coupes, with an understated elegance that appeals to used buyers and makes an attractive package when combined with a good specification.
3. …but loud can also be loved.
On higher-performance and sports cars, there is generally less subtlety involved – these cars want to be seen and bright red, luminous green and canary yellow schemes make sense. Brighter schemes also work well on smaller hatchbacks and city cars.
4. Polishing, and the right info, can add shine to value.
Sellers might consider a top-quality valet using a machine-operated polish to bring the finish back to ‘almost as new’ quality. On many modern vehicles, identifying the correct manufacturer colour along with the additional equipment is not always an obvious process and therefore providing this information becomes crucial at the point of remarketing.