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Small cars increasingly grab attention with color

Some car companies are rolling out brighter colors on their vehicles,  especially on small cars.   

These days, you can order a lime-green Ford Fiesta, a coppery-orange Honda Fit, or a sunshiny-yellow Fiat 500.

Mazda has probably pushed the color envelope the furthest, with an attention-grabbing color for the Mazda 2 called “Spirited Green.”

It’s really green. 

Teresa Stafford is a lead designer for color and materials for Mazda.

She says more muted colors tend to sell in higher volumes.  So the auto industry focused on those colors during the recession.

"We’ve had a long period of a lot of what we call “business” colors," says Stafford.  "Dark blues, greys, silvers, blacks and whites, and I think we’re starting to see the beginning of a resurgence of color again."

Stafford says Mazda was taken by surprise by how many people wanted a Mazda 2 in “Spirited Green.”

Twenty-three percent of customers have chosen the color. 

She says usually, a vivid color only accounts for about 5% of a car’s sales.

 Mazda spokeswoman Beverly Braga says bright colors appeal especially to Gen X and Y customers.

"They’re looking for something other than the silver cars that their parents all bought, or the black cars," says Braga.  "So they’re really becoming more attracted to something that pops."

Chevrolet is jumping on the bright color bandwagon, too.  One of the colors that will be available for the new Sonic is called “Inferno Orange."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.