In North America, the silver, grey and charcoal category saw a dramatic rise in popularity to 31 percent this year. The color accounted for 25 percent in 2009 and 20 percent in 2008.
Black and white were tied for second (18 percent). Red was third (11 percent), blue was fourth, (10 percent), naturals, like browns, tans, golds, oranges and yellows, were fifth (eight percent) and green was last (four percent.) Just 16 years ago, the most popular color on vehicles in North America was green with 21 percent, while silver had only eight percent in 1994.
“There’s clearly been a significant strengthening of silver’s popularity in recent years,” said Jane E. Harrington, PPG manager, color styling, automotive coatings. “And, with more than two-thirds of cars in North America being black, silver or white, one might be inclined to believe that vibrant colors don’t exist in automobiles anymore. But that’s not true. The fact is that these shades continue to evolve. New advances in pigments and technologies are giving today’s vehicles different textural appearances and iridescent sparkle.”
In Europe, silver and charcoal (32 percent) were followed by black (24 percent), white (20 percent), blue (10 percent), red (nine percent), naturals (five percent), green (one percent) and other/niche colors (one percent).
In the Asia/Pacific region, silver and charcoal (33 percent) were followed by white (21 percent), black (19 percent), red (10 percent), blue (eight percent), naturals (six percent), other/niche colors (four percent) and green (two percent).
“Color is an important component of how today’s carmakers can define and differentiate a vehicle or brand in the marketplace,” said Harrington. “The palette of colors being developed for the automotive market is clearly being influenced by culture, nature, fashion, movies, media, electronics and many consumer products.”
At this year’s annual Automotive Color Trend Show held at PPG’s offices, the coatings company presented its ideas for future vehicle colors. Titled “InSite,” the show highlighted the influences of insights from PPG’s other color- and coatings-oriented businesses, such as architectural coatings, industrial coatings, protective and marine coatings, and aerospace coatings on its automotive coatings offering. PPG presented automotive designers with 66 new exterior shades and five new interior shades for consideration in their designs of the 2013-2014 model years.
PPG introduced automotive manufacturers to new colors such as Denim, like the name a classic true blue with a high effect sparkle; Cognac, a rich coppery warm brown with an iridescent highlight; Silky Silver, a liquid silver look with a slight bronze cast; Moonshine Blue, a pale silvery blue like the reflection of the moon on a lake; and Wicked, a sinister green color inspired by couture fashion.
In addition to color trend forecasting, PPG is continuing to develop new paint technologies that offer automotive design options to enhance appearance and help manufacturers differentiate their brands.
PPG has developed proprietary interior coatings that provide the look and feel of anodized aluminum. The five colors developed are commercially available and allow car makers to provide a luxury look and feel to their interiors. “Anodized aluminum has been a trend in the automotive aftermarket for several years,” said Vala Mohr, PPG manager, interior color styling. “Our technology now brings that same luxurious look to the original equipment market giving automotive manufacturers another tool with which to enhance their brands.”
In addition, PPG highlighted several new coatings technologies that add unique special effects to a car’s exterior. “New glass flake technology utilizes titanium dioxide-coated glass flakes that appear as a smooth surface and add an extreme sparkle and brightness,” said Jerry R. Koenigsmark, PPG manager of color design, North America automotive coatings. “Also, new mica technology has helped increase the chroma and brilliancy from standard micas currently in use. This allows for increased brilliance in colors and greater highlight effects.” Koenigsmark also stated that new iron oxide coated aluminum pigments allow for increased color capability in the red and orange color space.