BMW April 2022

Have you ever wondered which colours are the most common on new vehicles today around the world and how colourful the automotive future might be? BASF Coatings – as a global leader in OEM and refinish coatings – has the answers.  And while the dominance of white surely is within your expectations some other findings might surprise you.

There’s no doubt that 2020 was an unusual and unconventional year. The OEM automotive colour palette also moved in a slightly different direction, as a wider range of chromatic colours (colours that have different shades or hues) started rolling off the world’s assembly lines.

Diverse players like blue and yellow are making gains in some regions, while red and violet are slowly eating into the lead held by the achromatic colours (colours that have only light or dark options, but no hue – for example white, grey or black) in other parts of the world. The expanding colour spaces made the overall spectrum wider and broader than 2019, adding a flash of brilliance.

Despite the growing number of colourful options, white, black, silver, and grey followed a familiar pattern, coating the majority of the vehicles produced. As it has been for several years, white is still the most popular car colour around the world. It has a classic, timeless beauty, and a connection to both the environment and high technology.

The data cited throughout this report shows lower total vehicle production than past years. It includes times when automakers had to shut down due to COVID-19. The global pandemic has deeply affected the mobility economy and the world.

Key in carefully monitoring today’s market, BASF´s own design centres around the world are already having a look into the future. Seeing the chance for an even broader and bolder range of colours, the designers created a collection, called CODE-X, with everything from new, reimagined whites, to the darkest of jet blacks, and a variety of vibrant colour spaces in-between. The colours serve as inspiration to automotive designers for vehicles that will be on the road in three- to five years. Many have effects or textures, making them truly a tactile experience as well as a visual and emotional experience.

Whilst some statistics and trends are seen all around the world, there are also distinctive differences between the regions. BASF has the great advantage to track world reports and trend collections with their international representation. Here are some of the regions with their findings:

EMEA Region

OEM automakers used more than 1 000 distinct shades on cars in 2020, and of those, 160 were shades of blue on vehicles in EMEA, making blue the most popular chromatic colour. Other chromatic colours are also gaining popularity, especially on smaller SUVs, which are a growing segment of the market.

The key colours going forward for EMEA – as featured in the colour trends collections – are soothing, calming colours with bold, new, distinct positions. There’s a huge variety of effects in these colours that are inescapable, yet approachable. There are things to see, things to explore and things to be surprised by.

Asia Pacific

While the total numbers aren’t huge, brown, green, and violet are all consistent in colour popularity. It will be a long time before they challenge white for the most popular, but for now, they add to the tremendous diversity of colour in Asia Pacific.

The future for Asia Pacific´s colour palette will bring warm and emotional colours that reflect a positive, flexible attitude for change and action in the future. They are not black or white, but more blurred and floating, like human emotion.

North America

Shades of blue are seen as more elegant, and buyers who may have chosen beige or brown in the past seem to be moving to blues or greys. Blue edged out red, while beige and brown have dropped off the list in North America.

North America’s future colour designs look to build off advancing colorant technologies that exhibit a greater sensitivity to the environment. Grace and simplicity will be the look of deep techno-sophistication.

South America

Colours like red and blue are still minor players in South America, but are growing in popularity, especially among car buyers who are trying to express their individuality. Overall, the market is a little more conservative than other regions.