The ‘white man van’ has become a figure of legend. But how come so many work vans – including our own rental vans – are white?
White is easier to keep clean. White keeps you cooler. White makes vehicles appear larger, making them easier to spot and safer to drive. White is better for marketing. White is easier to see at night. White is an uplifting colour which makes you think happy thoughts about the driver and business(!).
All the above have been suggested at one time or another as the reason virtually every other van on the road (and practically every rental van) is white. There’s a grain of truth in some of these. Others are just plain wrong. And then there’s the real reason more vans are white than any other colour: cost.
White vans get dirtier quicker
True? It’s all relative
It’s true that white vans show the dirt less than black vans, but it’s been a very long time since your only choice of van colour was black or white. If you want a van that shows the dirt less then black and white, choose literally any other colour.
White vans reflect heat
True? Not really
Which of us ever bought or hired a van on the basis of how hot it made us feel? Also, heat reflectance really doesn’t matter when you have air con. And finally, whilst white does reflect heat, that goes for the heat you generate, as well as the far more distant heat generated by the sun. So technically, what you want is a colour that absorbs heat and doesn’t reflect your own heat back at you – and black is far better at that.
White vans are easier to see at night
True? Yes, but given that most of them are parked up come sundown that’s hardly a reason to make every van white.
White is better for marketing
True. Black lettering on a white van will ‘pop’ far more than the reverse. And the same applies for logos, wraps and other forms of on-vehicle marketing. There are exceptions, but generally speaking, a white van will be a more effective marketing tool than most other colours.
White costs less
True. Titanium dioxide is used to make paint white, and it’s handily cheap. The next cheapest paint additive is carbon black which, as the name suggests, creates a black finish. Given the other advantages noted above, the cost effectiveness of white makes it the default choice.