Tuesday, 31 July 2007 17:00

Color trends indicate white is the new silver

Written by Autobody News staff
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After silver and black, white has the potential to be the third most significant color on the global automotive market for 2008, according to BASF Coatings’ color stylists. New shades of white will attract attention on the roads. Teams in the design centers and labs of BASF Coatings are working on solid-color and metallic paints, as well as special colors like white with soft mica effects, white with extreme sparkle, or white in variants with gradated hues such as cream colors and silver-white.
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White is classy and likely to be a trendsetter, for instance, in additional layers of clearcoat containing a light gold shimmer or as an exclusive matte white. What makes this all possible is new pigments and manufacturing processes that are making heads turn when it comes to surface texture, effects and haptics – touching behavior. According to the forecast, white will not only be making its mark in the exclusive and premium vehicle category, but will be setting the stage for small and mid-size cars in the long-term as well.

A combination of matte and high-gloss effects in the area of white is particularly sophisticated. What counts are subtle differences and a passion for details, and this applies to color, surfaces, and haptics as well.  “The interplay between a white exterior and a coordinated interior is particularly eye-catching,” said Michaela Finkenzeller, designer of BASF coatings.  “White is actually a very distinctive color. In the automotive sector in particular, it stands out from the crowd.”

Roots of the great white comeback

BASF Coatings’ color stylists and researchers have been observing a manifestation of the white trend for about two years. It’s not just hype or a short-term trend, but rather a metatrend that is making its way through all areas of design and everyday culture. Fashion, furniture, and consumer electronics are all pioneers in the white revolution. One of the best-known examples is the iPod. “From the point of view of society, the new trend toward white is rooted in the search for new values,” added Finkenzeller.


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Silver, the metatrend of the last decade, represented this kind of value, but generally stood for infatuation with technology, belief in the future, and inviolability. While the high-tech trend was ground-breaking, it was not a panacea. “We’re searching for new approaches, new solutions, and new values,” continued Finkenzeller. This search is being expressed by designers’ color collections and the end consumers’ partiality for certain colors. White stands for a focus on the essential, “a new aesthetic purism,” according to Finkenzeller.

Yet white is also something special and exclusive. “White that is worth loving and taking care of as opposed to low-maintenance silver is another way to describe it,” she added.. It is a matter of emotions versus uniformity and pure functionality.

The “white forecast”

In North America, one out of five cars is silver, which is attributed to rental car agencies and purchasers of company car fleets, who prefer neutral colors. BASF's statistics show that these colors are even more prominent in the upper price range, as so-called premium or luxury-class vehicles are traditionally less colorful. According to Finkenzeller, however, white will not be toppling silver’s dominance on the automotive market.

What colors are still in?

Currently there is a trend toward mixed shades that combine colors such as green, blue, and gray. For instance, adding turquoise effects can lend blue a mysterious touch, and subtle pearl gloss gives a pale greenish-gray a fascinating shimmer. Even silver is becoming more colorful.

Increasingly, blue, green, or brown is being added to silver, although the range of colors and effects presented by the new shades is often not revealed until the finish is exposed to just the right incident of light. Silver will also be complemented by other metallic colors. Copper, bronze, gold, and platinum will be giving car bodies a new pizzazz. A sense of class will now be defined by a wide range of colors, which will fulfill the customers’ rising demand for individuality.

Sensuality – a haptic experience

The state-of-the-art paint technologies offer more than just a colorful feast for the eyes. New surfaces ensure that the other senses are delighted as well. Matte effect and soft-touch evoke a haptic experience and a completely new point of access to the automobile as an icon for technology.

Of course, for every trend there is a counter-trend. In contrast to matte clearcoat, there is also a trend toward mirror effects and pure reflection. The two extremes, however, are not mutually exclusive, but open up new possibilities for combining materials, colors, and surfaces in the automobile’s interior, as well as on its exterior.

Color counts when buying a car

Color plays a significant role when consumers buy cars. Over 40 percent of them can imagine switching makes if the dealer doesn’t have the color they want in stock. The language of color and form, materials, and unexpected details are considered to be of increasing importance.


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