Purple used to be a color reserved for royalty. It was even illegal at one point for anyone other than a king to wear purple, much like imperial yellow in ancient China. These rules don't exist in the modern world, of course, and purple has become a popular color in the worlds of fashion— both men's and women's—as well as interior design. It's even the color of some of our favorite fruits and vegetables.
However, one area where the color purple has not always been as welcomed is in the American automotive market. Bright and colorful cars are not popular in the U.S. these days, with research from VW showing that just 21 percent of all vehicles sold here are painted in a color other than the monochromatic shades common on the dealership lots.
Is this always the case, however? Volkswagen's research also reveals that consumer preferences are changing. Plus, we live in a world where markets, livelihoods, and free time are so driven by the forces of social media (and purple looks more attractive on-screen).
In today's blog, we'll explore the world of the purple car and look into a future that's more than monochrome.
Dark Purple Car: Why So Rare?
As we touched on earlier, purple is not alone in its rarity in the world of car color. The fact is that the vast majority of cars in the U.S.—around 77 percent—come in one of four colors: white (23.9%), black (23.2%), gray (15.5%), or silver (14.5%). That means three out of four cars on the road have one of these four hues. That doesn't leave a lot of room for the remaining spectrum.
It comes across as a little surprising to some because so many automakers offer a broad range of color choices. Some manufacturers offer as many as 15 color choices. For example, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler is available in bright pink, orange, or green. Yet, with a full pallet of color choices, why aren't our roads more vibrant? Why are we still lost in a monochrome sea?
Most people stick with the four colors mentioned above because they are the default colors offered by automakers and made available on dealer lots. If you want purple, pink, bright green, or another vivid color, it invariably comes at a premium, from $250 to $1500 (depending on the exact color and style). Even the metallic and pearlescent versions of the most common colors cost extra. So, most buyers have a financial incentive to stick with the base hues.
Vivid Colors Are Still Rare
You might get a lot of vivid color choices with the Jeep Wrangler. But this is far from typical for most manufacturers, even among those that offer numerous exterior options. Some may offer a dozen shades of whites, grays, silvers, and blacks (with a few dark blues and reds mixed in). But there's usually not a purple in sight. Such bright colors remain the purview of only a few automakers.
Taste and Preference
Finally, colors like purple remain the least popular in the automotive world because many people don't associate purple with cars. It's not necessarily a color buyers think of when purchasing cars, trucks, and SUVs. Plus, purple isn't a signature color of any brand, nor is it at the forefront of most people's minds when they think of "typical" car colors. It's simply a question of personal taste and experience.
Of course, nothing prevents a car from being purple, even if it doesn't start out this way. You can turn a regular vehicle into a dark purple one with the help of a purple car wrap.
What Is Purple Car Wrap?
Purple vinyl car wrap is one way to turn a vehicle into a purple car without respraying over the original exterior or finding a brand that offers a purple paint option. A vinyl car wrap is a unique material (usually polyvinyl chloride) that comes in rolls from manufacturers such as 3M and Avery. Prices and quality vary greatly.
The backside of this PVC material has a protective covering that's peeled away to expose an adhesive. The wrap lays across a car's exterior and is shaped to cover the surface like a new skin. When properly applied, the wrap transforms the exterior and provides paint protection.
If you have the background or are willing to experiment, you can transform a boring monochrome vehicle into a stunning purple expression of individualism for around $300-$500. A professional job can cost up to $2,000 or more, depending on the vehicle size and quality of the materials.
How Is Car Wrap Applied?
These vinyl wrap materials are tricky to apply unless you have some experience and the necessary skills. Professionals make the installation process look easy, encouraging novices to try car wrapping independently. This can leave the DIYer in a difficult position when installation problems arise. It's not uncommon for an amateur to damage the car's original paint in the process.
Step 1: Prepare the car for the purple car wrap application. Let's assume we've bought some high-quality glossy vinyl wrap and now want to transform an ordinary gray vehicle into something more vibrant. The surface needs thorough cleaning to remove any impurities. At the same time, any chips or scratches need treatment to prevent paint imperfections from showing through the wrap.
Step 2: Evaluate the vehicle's exterior and take note of the different shapes and sections that will be covered in the vinyl wrap. It's vital to tackle the wrapping process with manageable individual pieces. Once you map this out, measure each section to determine how much film to use. Whatever you measure, add four to five inches to that amount to ensure there's enough material to cover each section and tuck the film away.
Step 3: Cut the appropriate amount from the film roll and peel off the reverse layer to reveal the adhesive backing. Lay the film on the corresponding section of the car. With the edges curled up, first press down in the center. Then push outwards to remove any trapped air and towards the edges. You can use a squeegee and a heat gun to get a nice flat finish.
Step 4: With the vinyl laid smoothly, trim the excess to about a tenth of an inch or quarter centimeter if you do metric. That tiny bit of leftover material will be tucked under in a moment. Take care to avoid cutting the car's surface; the trimmer should only touch the film. You can smooth out the edges using the heat gun and squeegee and tuck away the leftover part.
Step 5: Going over the film one more time with the heat gun will reveal how well it has adhered to the surface. If any film section comes off, you'll need to re-install it by repeating the earlier steps as required.
Dark Purple Car: The Comeback of "Retro" Colors
Whether your car is factory purple or uses a purple car wrap to achieve the effect, you are part of a growing movement of color. The senior color and trim designer at Volkswagen, Jung Lim Park, explained that "we are all so impacted by our digital life through the pandemic, and the colors you mainly see are [on] your screen more than actual physical objects."
Park explains that a growing number of people want the brighter colors on their cars because they "pop" more on the screen, and that's what one needs to stand out in a competitive digital space. An increase in demand should see more upcoming vehicles splash with color. VW is putting their money where their mouth is on that score. The company's forthcoming electric van, the I.D.Buzz will be available in a host of colors, including (you guessed it) purple.
The fact is that monochrome isn't going anywhere, in reality, but it's going to have to start sharing more of the space with its brighter and vivid color siblings, and we can expect purple to be among them.