Why are black roofs on cars fancy?

· Thought

If you’ve had the good fortune to have the opportunity to buy a car in the last few years, you may have noticed a trim option that seems to have exploded in popularity - the black roof.

The automotive world first saw this happen with the introduction of panoramic sunroofs. In these cases, a black roof actually made sense - the roof was made of glass (as sunroofs usually are), and was tinted so that the amount of sunlight entering wouldn’t be overwhelming.

Lately, though, black roofs have begun to appear on cars that are distinctly lacking a sunroof of any kind. Why? It’s difficult to pin down the exact reason, but my hypothesis is that sunroofs are expensive (and therefore cool), so why not try to make people think you’re cool without having to spend (too much) extra money? And from then on, the design broke off and became cool in its own right, and, because of the extra price, it also became synonymous with quality and extravagance. So, why not pay a little extra?

Because, we’re being swindled. An article from Automotive News, which interviews several figures in the automotive design industry, tells us that having a differently-coloured roof is more expensive to produce, leading to a higher price at the dealership. They say that painting a part of the car a different colour means either needing to paint that part on its own on a separate production line (meaning you need to actually pay for or have a second production line), or it means needing to run the car through the same production line a second time (meaning you produce less cars because of the constant redos).

That seems a little fishy to me: I don’t buy for an instant that the literal namesake industry of Fordism either doesn’t have production lines dedicated to jobs like these, or that they would really be so unwise as to have multiple run throughs on the same line. In fact, it would make sense that a black roof should be cheaper than a regularly coloured roof! If everyone wants a black roof regardless of the colour of the rest of their car, that’s a lot less differently-coloured paints a factory has to worry about for the roof, so they can just churn out black roofs en masse and save a helluva lot of money.

So, to the automotive industry, I say phooey to your attempts at convincing the public that expensive=good when the thing I’m actually paying for isn’t even expensive to make in the first place.

TL;DR: Black roofs are a scam. We’re paying more for less, and we’re being convinced that it’s cool to do so.