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Barbiemania fails to accelerate sales of new pink cars

Why the movie's box office success hasn't rubbed off on car buyers

Barbiemania - Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling driving in Barbie movie
9 February 2024
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Barbie may have been the highest-grossing movie of 2023, but new car buyers are still playing it safe with monochrome colour choices.

According to sales figures for 2023, published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), grey is the UK’s favourite new car colour for the sixth year running. Boasting a market share of more than a quarter (26.8%), some half a million (509,194) grey cars were registered, out of a total of 1.9 million.

The Renault Austral E-Tech is 'Shadow Grey'
The Renault Austral E-Tech is 'Shadow Grey'

Completing the podium, black and white held second and third place, also for the sixth consecutive year, which means almost two thirds (63.5%) of all new cars joining UK roads in 2023 were decked in monochrome.

Drivers determined to stamp their style on their car barely made an impact on sales, with pink, maroon and cream remaining at the niche end of the colour palette – accounting for just 604 registrations combined.

Barbie star Margot Robbie with a pink Chevrolet C1 Corvette© Jon Kopaloff
Barbie star Margot Robbie with a pink Chevrolet C1 Corvette

Over the weekend of the release of the hit film, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, the number of searches for pink vehicles rose 68%, reckons online car dealer cinch - but clearly that interest was not translated into hard sales.

Car hire company SIXT embraced the Barbiecore aesthetic by turning one of its MINIs into a hot pink Barbie-style car. 

Leanne Bayley driving a pink mini
This Barbie is off shopping

For a limited time only, Barbie fans could drive around London in the stunning convertible, complete with pink seats and various other splashes of the colour throughout the interior.

Tim Vetters, Managing Director of SIXT UK, said: "We wanted to create a car that was as vibrant, eye-catching and on-trend as our customers!"

The all-electric Porsche Taycan is one of the few new cars available in pink© Porsche
The all-electric Porsche Taycan is one of the few new cars available in pink

Even if new car buyers wanted to embrace the Barbie phenomenon and buy pink cars, it's a rare colour option with only a handful of manufacturers offering anything close to the shade.

For instance, one of the best electric cars on the market - the Porsche Taycan - is available in 'Frozen Berry', the cute Fiat 500e can be bought in 'Metallic Rose Gold’, while the popular Ford Puma has a 'Vivid Ruby' colour option.

Pretty in pink? The special edition 'Maserati Grecale Barbie'© Maserati
Pretty in pink? The special edition 'Maserati Grecale Barbie'

And if you can afford a Maserati, the Italian luxury brand joined forces with toy maker Mattel to launch the ultra-limited edition ‘Barbie Maserati Grecale’ last summer.

Even if there's not much colour choice for Barbie fans in the new car market, there's more scope if you're buying second-hand, where previous owners might have resprayed or vinyl wrapped their price and joy. You can also buy older cars which were available in pink, such as the special edition Nissan Micra C+C (coupe and cabriolet). 

 Special edition Nissan Micra C+C from 2005© Nissan
Special edition Nissan Micra C+C from 2005

Other than Barbie, perhaps the best known fan of pink cars is former glamour model Katie Price, 45, who unfortunately has a long history of driving offences that have seen her banned from the road six times.

In 2019 she reportedly got rid of her trademark pink vehicles because she was convinced that they "get her into trouble".

Katie Prices smiling for a photo at a red carpet event© Getty Images
The best known fan of pink cars is former glamour model Katie Price

Her pink fleet has included a Ferrari, Range Rover and Volkswagen Beetle, plus a Fiat Ducato horse box.

Ultimately, pink cars might seem like a good idea at the time, but all that can change when you come to sell the car. 

Garish colours can bring down the resale value of a vehicle - just like high mileage, poor condition, damage and lower equipment levels. They are also harder to shift because pink is an immediate turn-off for most buyers.

All-new Fiat 600e in 'Orange: Sun of Italy'
All-new Fiat 600e in 'Orange: Sun of Italy'

The good news is that there may be hope on the horizon for lovers of vibrant colours. In 2023, Fiat took the revolutionary decision to stop producing grey cars. Fiat boss Olivier Francois said the move is aimed at "reinforcing Fiat's leadership as the brand of joy, colours, and optimism".

DISCOVER: The ultimate guide to car tax - from exemptions to how to pay

Starting with the all-new 100% Fiat 600e, all the colours in the manufacturer's range will be inspired by the Italian Sea, Sun, Earth and Sky.

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