What other people want

Apparently, car thieves don’t want your pink car. It’s not because they don’t like the colour (although they probably don’t). It’s also not only that it’s too distinctive and will be easily spotted (see the discussion later about red cars).

It’s that nobody else wants it. The resale value is much lower than other vehicles, and the risks and costs of stealing it are no lower.

Unlike the conclusion around high risk vehicles in my post on hijacking, this actually means you should be safer in a pink car. Just not safer from ridicule.

Dutch professor, Ben Vollaard, studied theft rates for vehicles as part of his research area of the economics of crimes. The data covered 109 vehicles from 2004 to 2008. Not the largest sample size, but enough to start thinking.

From the research:

a car thief interested in making money can be expected to go for cars with the highest resale value, i.e. cars in the most popular exterior colours. Colour is key in the car market. A car in silver or yellow goes for the same price at the dealership, but the resale value greatly differs between the two. The National Auto Auction Association estimates that on average a used car in a popular colour sells for $1,000 more than the same car with a less desirable colour (NAAA 2010).

What colours people want

DuPont provides a list of the global popularity of vehicle colours:

Top Ten Global Vehicle Colors

1. Silver – 25 percent
2. Black – 23 percent
3. White – 16 percent
4. Gray – 13 percent
5. Blue – 9 percent
6. Red – 8 percent
7. Brown/Beige – 4 percent
8. Green – 1 percent
9. Yellow/Gold – 1 percent
10. Others – <1 percent

Pink, along with purple and polka dots and everything else represents less than 1% of the vehicles on the road.

This is a global study, but it ties with my sense of colour popularity in South Africa.  Interestingly, in India, red is in third place with 16.1%. Green is the second most popular colour in Russia with 18.2% of all cars.

What criminals want

The link between market popularity and theft risk is obvious:

Theft risk by colour (%), cars up to three years old, 2004-2008, the Netherlands. Source Ben Vollaard
Theft risk by colour (%), cars up to three years old, 2004-2008, the Netherlands. Source Ben Vollaard

The risk of theft for black, silver and blue cars is notably higher than for other, less popular colours. Not a single pink car was stolen in the sample.

The research also shows that there is more at work here than the visibility of the cars. Red cars have decreased in popularity over time. As the popularity has decreased, so has the risk of theft. The cars haven’t become less visible to police over the period, but as their popularity changes, so the resale value declines. This reduced value to thieves makes them less attractive and therefore less risky for the owner (not the criminal…).

Should you want what others don’t?

If you plan to keep the car forever, and if you can stomach driving a pink vehicle, maybe you should consider pink to be the new black. If you are planning to ever have to sell the vehicle, you’ll be in the same (pink) boat as the criminals.

Published by David Kirk

The opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and other commenters and are not necessarily those of his employer or any other organisation. David Kirk runs Milliman’s actuarial consulting practice in Africa. He is an actuary and is the creator of New Business Margin on Revenue. He specialises in risk and capital management, regulatory change and insurance strategy . He also has extensive experience in embedded value reporting, insurance-related IFRS and share option valuation.

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  1. I noticed that there was in increase for orange cars, which is slightly out of line with the global trend. I wonder whether that has something to do with all the orange Ford Focus vehicles which seem to be extremely popular in Parow 😉

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