Frequent visitors to China (like more than half of the Momentum Works team) would notice something quite conspicuous:

Almost half of the cars you see on the road are … white.

The colour is more present than any other:

At an expressway rest stop
At a car rental company
In front of a factory
In a residential car park
On the expressway
On the elevated road in Shanghai

Even this aerial view of an epic jam is quite telling: 

Count the white cars

Practical reasons

So why are white cars so popular in China? We asked a few car owners (there are a lot of them among the people we know, obviously). It seems the primary reason is practical: dusts and minor scratches are hardly noticeable on white cars, while they are very obvious on darker bodies:

Dust is a permanent problem for cars in China
Black cars are quite vulnerable to scratches, even minor ones

Silver cars are also less prone to dust. However, the few people we spoke to (who own white cars) all said the same about silver cars: “they look dull, and cheap.”

Of course, white cars have other advantages. For example, they absorb less heat in summer (most places in China are hotter than Southeast Asia in July and August), and they are more noticeable at night (some study suggests they are 47% more noticeable than black cars).

Compared to other light colours, white also withstands time. You are much less likely to grow weary about white than dark blue or light green.

Another fact, well maybe it is more appropriate to call it illusion rather than fact, is that white cars look bigger than black ones of the same size:

Which one is bigger?

Global phenomenon

While the popularity of white cars is probably more conspicuous in China than in other countries, data from coatings company PPG have indicated that white is indeed the preferred colour across all continents.

47% of cars in Asia Pacific are white in 2016

And this trend seems to be accelerating. The same study by PPG in 2012 showed that white occupied 23% of all car builds in Asia Pacific – the number in 2016 already reached 47%.

Up from 23% in 2012

Meanwhile, more white cars are being shipped across China, probably further enhancing its lead in the colours:

Attack of the Clones

Thanks for reading The Low Down, insight and inside knowledge from the team at Momentum Works. If you’d like to get in touch with us about any issues discussed in our blog, please drop us an email at [email protected] and let us know how we can help.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].


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Jianggan Li is the Founder & CEO of Momentum Works. Prior to founding Momentum Works, he co-founded Easy Taxi in Asia, and served as Managing Director of Foodpanda. The two years running Rocket Internet companies has given him a lifetime experience on supersonic implementation, and good camaraderie with entrepreneurs across the developing world. He holds a MBA from INSEAD (GMAT 770) and a degree in Computer Engineering from Nanyang Technological University. Unfortunately he never wrote a single line of code professionally - but in his first job he was in media, travelling extensively across Asia & Europe, speaking with Ministers & (occasionally) Prime Ministers. Apart from English and his native Mandarin, he is also fluent in French and conversational in Cantonese & Spanish. He tried to learn Latin (for three years) and Sanskrit (for six months) as well. In his (scarce) free time, he reads, travels, hikes and dives. Pyongyang, Tehran & Chisinau are among the interesting cities he has been to.