Colour commentary: why is bright paint on cars so expensive?
There are plenty of ways car companies and dealerships can make money. From huge profits in the finance office to big markups on the you-gotta-have-it TruCoat, it’s hard to see how any part of the car racket fails to make bank.
One extra way in which some car companies choose to nickel and dime their customers? By charging extra for snazzy paint colours.
This is infuriating to your author, who cannot fathom why mainstream car makers feel the need to reach into the pockets of their customers for an extra $200 simply because they like bright hues.
Sure, there are some instances in which it is perfectly acceptable for an OEM to charge extra for funky shades, such as the custom paint options at bucks-deluxe brands like Porsche and Audi. But for Mazda to charge an extra $450 for Soul Red or $300 for Machine Grey on its 3 sedan? To quote Jackie Chiles: it’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous.
Manufacturers will surely be screaming into their financial ledgers as they read this, muttering dross about the need to pay for the development costs of a metallic or pearl finish. This argument doesn’t wholly hold water, however, especially when a manufacturer charges $0 for a metallic silver but adds $300 or more to the vehicle note for a metallic red or blue. We’re on to you, bean-counters.
Worse still is the pestilential propensity for manufacturers to offer only greyscale hues on their base machinery. Would sir or madam like a 2020 Honda Civic LX Coupe? You can have it in any no-added-cost colour you want, so long as it’s black.
In fact, the only other colour available on that model is a Platinum White Pearl which, you guessed it, costs an extra $300. If you want the tasty Rallye Red, prepare to make a $3,400 walk to the Sport trim. Bafflingly, the tremendous Aegean Blue only appears on Civic Coupes equipped with a CVT transmission unless you pop for the Si model, which stickers in excess of thirty grand.
There are bright spots in the industry, pun intended. Jeep offers no fewer than eleven different colours on the base model Jeep Wrangler, including the likes of Firecracker Red and Hellayella at no extra charge. Still, the off-road brand isn’t totally clean of pigment pick-pocketing: blue or orange costs $245 extra.
Bed-wetting accountants will surely raise a stern harrumph from their pencil-necked throats, pointing out that bold colours can cost more to fix if bodywork is needed after an accident. They suggest, too, that a Chevy Spark painted in $455 worth of Orange Burst will be harder to shift as a used car than a $0 Silver Ice example, owing to the narrower appeal of daring paintwork.
This may be so, but it’s a price your extroverted author is willing to pay so he can avoid looking like every other parental unit at the hockey rink.
“We need more courage again in our choice of colour,” French colour designer Jean-Gabriel Causse proclaimed in an interview with Porsche. This is a man who consults on colours for companies and is convinced many people underestimate the power of different hues in their lives.
At his TED Talk (because of course he has a TED Talk) he spoke of the influence colour has in our lives, explaining how a relentless palette of drab greys and bland whites can actually have a negative effect on our mental health.
And there you have it — professional opinion that it is quite possible for boring colours to drive a person around the bend. The next time you’re stuck in traffic on the Don Valley Parkway and feel your head’s ready to explode, be confident in the assertion one can blame their state of mind on all those the boring silver RAV4s choking the expressway.