Wild Colors Could be a Healthy Sign for Ford and for Consumers

Last Updated Sep 22, 2009 10:32 AM EDT

Here's a welcome sign that maybe the auto industry is getting back to normal, after all: Ford and other competitors are predicting a trend toward wild exterior colors for cars and trucks.

Ford has a new, bright green color called "Lime Squeeze" that even inspired a bride to custom-match her wedding dress to the car, according to a recent Ford press release. Kia has a similar color it calls "Space Alien" for the new Kia Soul.

Offbeat colors are an evergreen - pardon the expression - prediction on the part of car company designers, who give the impression they are really, really tired of the same old silver, white and black, with the occasional red sports car thrown in for variety.

I remember some years back BMW introduced a pale purple, sort of lavender color for its 7 Series flagship, with matching, lavender leather upholstery, which was supposed to be the new, hot color. The U.S. BMW guys visibly winced as they unveiled it.

In actual practice, most people still buy the same old, same old, silver, white and black. That's at least in part because Americans like to buy cars out of dealer inventory, as opposed to special-ordering an unusual color and waiting for it. In turn, dealers are reluctant to order unusual colors that might not sell, unless somebody asks for it.

Anyway, I choose to think it's a healthy sign for Ford to be talking about unusual color choices, which makes you think that unlike Chrysler and GM, Ford as an organization has something on its mind other than mere survival.

Ford says it is experiencing high demand for vehicle colors such as the 2010 Mustang in "Grabber Blue" and the F-150 SVT Raptor pickup in "Molten Orange." When the 2011 Ford Fiesta goes on sale next summer, color choices will include "Bright Magenta" and the aforementioned "Lime Squeeze."

For the first time with any Ford vehicle in Europe, Ford says Fiesta buyers are saying that vehicle color was among the top 10 reasons for purchasing the car, according to Ford research. Ford notes that other product categories, like clothing, laptops and vacuums are experimenting with bolder colors, so why not cars?

Photo: Ford