DETROIT – Coatings suppliers are coming up with dramatic new colors every year for automakers to punch up the design statements of their sedans, sports cars and SUVs, but car buyers continue to turn to old-standby hues such as silver and white.
“When color trends change, it’s more difficult to change your car than to change your tie,” says Paul Czornij, head of design for BASF’s Color Excellence Group. “So car buyers tend to be conservative.”
An annual automotive color popularity study from BASF competitor PPG last year showed consumers in the U.S. and around the world prefer white, a flexible, fashionable color that hints at high-tech and makes smaller cars appear larger. But black has emerged as a most-researched color for online shoppers, and automakers are becoming more daring in their offerings.
Czornij thinks BASF strikes a balance with many of the colors in the annual color-trends research it provides OEMs with hues that change depending on the point of view. All of them are informed by global trends in fashion, architecture and textiles, as well as economic, technological and societal shifts.
Aerialist Wish, one of 65 colors in this year’s “Parallax” outlook study for OEMs, is black with a silky, silvery look throughout. Czornij says it changes from a dark, gloomy tone to a sophisticated gray, depending on the vantage point, to suggest urban renewal. It is among the top three BASF color predictions for North America.
Primordial Red is another top North American color prediction, and Czornij says the deep, blood red reflects the passion of a “can-do” spirit in the U.S.
Rounding out the top three is, Raingarden, a metallic silver color with green and blue elements that illustrates how technology such as the smartphone has influenced people’s behaviors in society.
“Raingarden also exemplifies our coatings capabilities at BASF,” Czornij says. “In order to achieve a silver color that looks subtly different depending on the viewer’s vantage point, we relied on our design expertise, but it also showcases our technical finesse with innovative pigments to achieve a beautiful coating that could be used in a real-world setting.”
The BASF study also addresses Europe, Asia Pacific and China.
European color trends are driven by the theme, “What comes after the hashtag?” It is a search to adapt to the digital world without losing authenticity, BASF says, and the supplier represents the quest with ASMR Blue. Artificial yet appealing, BASF says the color connects the physical and virtual worlds.
A metallic sand-beige color with fresh, playful blue-green hues hint at the optimism of Asia Pacific despite economic and other challenges facing the region. It also answers demands by Asians for creativity and quality, and demonstrates a connection between traditional values and typical Asian elegance, BASF says.
Czornij says BASF also is using its technical and design muscle to help automakers meet tightening global fuel economy and emissions standards by developing coatings that work with emerging lightweight materials, and pigments to keep the cabins of cars cooler and reduce air-conditioning use.