Black Gains Ground in Global Car Color Preferences

BASF's annual Color Report for Automotive OEM Coatings looks at trends in popular passenger vehicle colors around the world.

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White continues to reign as the most popular color for light passenger vehicles, but black is rapidly gaining ground, eating into white's market share, according to the 2023 BASF Color Report for Automotive OEM Coatings.

This shift in consumer preference is not just limited to black and white. Regional variations add a layer to this changing color spectrum. In North America, lighter shades like silver are increasingly preferred over darker grays. Conversely, the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region shows a tilt towards darker shades.

Chromatic colors, encompassing hues like blue, red, brown and beige, have maintained a stable market share of 19%.

Delving deeper into regional preferences, the report highlights unique trends in Europe. Germany's love for blue stands out at 11%, while Spain and the UK show a penchant for red and orange, each hovering around 9%. France's affinity for green at 6% and Italy's diverse color palette, with 30% market share in chromatic colors, illustrate a vivid tapestry of automotive hues.

"While the achromatic colors are still the most popular, each country appears to have its favorite place on the chromatic realm," said Mark Gutjahr, global head of automotive color design for BASF. "Automakers are offering more room for individuality and creativity, and car buyers are embracing this diversity."

In North America, the report observes a shift towards lighter achromatic colors, following the retirement of several gray shades. This region also showcases a unique trend, with red not able to surpass blue as the most popular chromatic color, despite having the highest share of red cars compared to other regions in 2023.

"The old standard color palette no longer applies," said Elizabeth M. Hoffmann, color designer for North America. "Lighter shades are becoming more popular, and we're seeing more effects pigments for intensity and excitement."

The Asia Pacific region is witnessing an increase in chromatic colors, particularly in natural tones like green. The report attributes this to the variety of body types, especially in New Energy Vehicles (NEVs), where green and purple-influenced colors are more visible.

"With new automakers creating diverse vehicles, a more vibrant color palette is emerging, appealing particularly to younger consumers," said Chiharu Matsuhara, head of automotive color design for Asia Pacific.

South America, known for its conservative color choices, continues to have the highest proportion of achromatic colors. In 2023, 86% of new vehicles in this region were either white, black, silver or gray. However, the increasing use of effects pigments is adding a new dimension to these traditional colors.

Marcos Fernandes, director of BASF Coatings South America, explained, "Colors aren't just colors anymore. They are experiences. The effects pigments are giving a certain flair that's becoming increasingly popular."

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