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BASF breaks down the 2017 automotive colours market

With the “BASF Colour Report for Automotive OEM Coatings”, BASF’s Coatings division provides a global analysis of the colour distribution in the 2017 automotive market.

Globally, white maintains its strong position in all segments and still is the number one colour with a market share of almost 40%. Together with black, grey, and silver, the achromatic colours continue to be the most prominent. When it comes to chromatic colours, the share of blue and red is almost equal, followed by brown. The global overview of the car segments shows: the smaller the car the more vivid the colour.

With increasing sales and number of models, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) significantly influence the popularity data. While white and black are still strong colours within this segment, red, blue, and especially brown are showing up more and more. This mirrors the expected growth and diversification of the model range of these robust vehicles.

The figures of the European Colour Report 2017 reveal that achromatic colours are still the most popular. About 78% of all cars were painted white, black, grey or silver last year, marking a continuing trend. Among the achromatic colours, the proportion of grey increased to 19%. Gray has now attained the same popularity as black. The growing share of grey is underlined by the increasing diversity of grey shades. With more than 100 variations, grey has the second highest number of shades after blue.

“Gray – with its associations with concrete and glass – represents the urbanest colour and has increased strongly over the past years. With shades from light and mid-greys to dark anthracite, it represents a huge variety and in so doing has gained its strong market position,” said Mark Gutjahr, head of Automotive Colour Design EMEA at BASF’s Coatings division.

Of the chromatic colours, blue continues to trend strongly. While the overall share of 10% remained stable, the proportion of blue increased considerably in terms of its share in the chromatic palette: nearly every second chromatic car produced in Europe 2017 was blue – a trend predicted by BASF’s Coatings colour designers and reflected in the numerous blue shades in the last colour trend collections. With nearly 130 different variations, blue also remained number one in terms of colour diversity.

The North American Colour Report 2017 points out that new pigment technologies increase the demand for special effects that shimmer and shine. This leads to a larger variety of the colour segments – especially with the achromatic white, black and silver/ grey, which are the most popular vehicle colours in North America.

Even in the growing segment of electric vehicles, achromatic colours are still preferred – although grey/silver appears to be more popular than white or black at this early stage in electric vehicle development. Colour aesthetics are being increasingly considered in combination with functionality, so the ability to be detected by sensors has more relevance than ever before, and BASF will continue to monitor these developments.

“Our trend research shows the continued importance of the achromatic colour space, dominated by white, black, and grey. It’s critical for us to innovate in these areas, so we look for unique ways to find colours that capture the essence of the customer’s brand to how it helps define the shape of the car,” said Paul Czornij, head of design for BASF Colour Design Excellence Group in North America.

Blue and red are the key chromatic colours in North America. The blue colour space is also very versatile and can achieve a large diversity of shades, ranging in lightness, saturation, and subtle hue changes. Other colours, such as orange, are showing up in the analysis. These shades provide more options for the consumers to tie into their particular preferences.

The automotive coatings market in Asia Pacific is being driven by the increasing vehicle population and the diversity of the different regional conditions which is also reflected in the Asia Pacific Colour Report 2017. With an overall distribution of 49%, white is the most favourite colour in the region. Due to the cultural context in Asia Pacific, white colours are associated with the positive image of purity and intelligent advanced technology. Thus, white cars have been gaining a high-volume growth in Asia Pacific over the past couple of years. Apart from white, brown colours are also gaining popularity – especially for mid-size SUVs. Both white – especially pearl white – and brown are positioned as stylish colours with a luxurious flavour that are welcomed by the Asia Pacific market.

Bright red, as a provocative yet smartly individual colour area, is highly popular in the chromatic range of automotive colours within the automotive market in Asia Pacific. In general, red for automotive attracts attention, which is an important factor in the mature markets of Asia Pacific.

With the analysis of the global distribution of automotive colours, BASF's Colour Report for Automotive OEM Coatings supplements the Automotive Colour Trends published annually by BASF's Coatings division. While the trend collection presents colour concepts that will shape the automotive future, the Colour Report is concerned with the present-day market situation and thus refers to the data of the previous year. Within the last years, colour diversity has increased and the possibilities for innovative colour concepts are multifaceted. Therefore, BASF works closely with OEMs to compose the desired look and feel, underlining the spirit of the automotive brands.

Hundreds of colours are currently in the market and include a broad selection of unique effects. Moreover, functionalities of coatings play an increasing role. Paints with an integrated temperature management, for instance, strengthen a sustainable future mobility. As they minimise the heating of the car surface and thus the heating of the interior, savings in air conditioning lead to reduced fuel consumption or an extended range of electric cars.