Chicago Automobile Trade Association

Auto experts feeling blue--about car color, not sales forecasts

November 17, 2010

The dominance of silver- and white-colored cars might be waning. Blues, particularly more vibrant, richer, complex blues, will take on a more important role in car styling, automotive paint supplier PPG Industries declared Oct. 15 in its annual forecast of popular car colors.

"It’s one of those colors that complements vehicle shapes," said Jane Harrington, PPG’s manager of color styling for automotive coatings. "It’s a globally acceptable color. It doesn’t have any bad connotations."

PPG, based in Troy, Mich., infers future car colors from trends in a wide variety of areas, including fashion, interior design and consumer products. In fact, color is making its way into a growing number of consumer markets, Harrington said, with customizable color now an option with cell phones, kitchen appliances and even washing machines.

"Look at home appliances — washers and driers and refrigerators used to be tan or white," she said. "You can get those in brushed aluminums. You get those in a variety of hues: red, blue, green, whatever works with the interior of your home. I think that’s affected all aspect of designs."

In the coming years, cars will also see a wider variety of colors — and more complex ones — thanks to advances in paint technology, Harrington said.

PPG is not the only one that sees blue as the color of tomorrow.

In April, a report by chemicals giant Dupont also predicted a resurgence in blue as a color choice. They saw an increasing focus on the environment as a reason.

"The source of the trend is influenced by ecological concepts, as we talk about sky, water," said Karen Surcina, color manager for Dupont Co. "You can also talk about blue as a sophisticated look."

PPG said its "colorists" have developed more than 130 color concepts for its automaker customers to consider for the 2011-2012 model years. The palate includes a color called "Lights Out," a deep, dark blue accented by sparkling glass flakes, and "Split & Peel," a pale, creamy yellow.

Among existing cars, silver continues to be the most popular color in North America, PPG said. Twenty percent of new cars purchased so far in 2008 were silver, PPG said. White was the No. 2 color, at 18 percent, followed by black at 17 percent and red at 13 percent.

Elsewhere, silver occupies an even bigger piece of the car market. In Europe, 35 percent of cars new cars this year were silver, while in PPG’s Asia-Pacific region, it’s 37 percent, PPG representatives said.

What explains the popularity of silver? Harrington said it’s a neutral color that works on just about any car.

"Black, white and silver are core colors that are offered on every single vehicle," she said.



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