UPDATE: This story has become even weirder. The Chronicles of Turkmenistan has now reported that police have begun impounding vehicles of all colors, except for white. Reportedly, there were never written regulations regarding the ban of black vehicles, and that has let police officers to interpret the edict to their discretion. According to the story, "some drivers can be released but the majority of car owners are ordered to re-paint their car or to refrain from using the vehicle."
Turkmenistan officials have decided to ban all black cars from the Central Asian country’s capital. This highly unpopular measure is already effective and follows a veto from 2015, when black cars were prohibited from being imported into Turkmenistan, a country wedged between Iran, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan.
According to local online publication Chronicles of Turkmenistan, some Ashgabat citizens recently woke up with their cars missing. Shortly after, it became clear that the vehicles have been towed to a parking lot.
In the first days of 2018, the owners started getting their cars back, but not before signing a document, which obligates them to repaint the vehicles in white or similar color, but definitely not black, before getting back on the road. This order from the federal government immediately increased the prices of the local auto body shops from about $500 for a full car respray to $1,000 and more.
"When I came to the auto shop, I was told that the repainting would cost 7,000 manats but that in a week the price would rise to 11,000 manats," a black car owner from Ashgabat told RadioFreeEurope. "My salary is 1,000 manats, so even if I don't spend any money anywhere, I will be forced to hand over pretty much my entire annual salary just to repaint.”
At this point, the country’s government hasn’t made a clear official statement about the reasoning behind the new law, but it is believed that white is the favorite color of Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who believes in superstitions, according to Chronicles of Turkmenistan. When the import ban for black cars was introduced back in 2015, custom officers said that “white color is supposed to be lucky.”
Previous unpopular car-related rules in Ashgabat include banning tinted windows in 2014 and restricting the engine size on imported cars in 2015.
Note: Mercedes-Benz Black Series collection pictured.