Published on January 21st 2020 in

White still dominates in BASF’s 2019 automotive colour analysis

One of the central results of the BASF Colour Report 2019 for Automotive OEM Coatings is that about 39 percent of all cars built around the globe were painted white. However, although white is the most popular colour in every region, there are remarkable differences in the regional distribution. Other achromatic colours – black, grey and silver – are the next three most popular colours. Together, they account for another 39 percent of the cars that rolled off the assembly line in 2019. This trend also applies to the most popular car segment overall: the SUV.

But the world isn’t just black and white. The other 22 percent of the world’s new vehicles were sprayed with chromatic colours in 2019. About nine percent of the vehicles produced globally were blue and seven percent were red, each addressing an emotional motive that goes with car ownership and individuality. BASF’s designers use unique pigments, effects and other innovations to create deep and brilliant shades.

In EMEA, achromatic colours still dominate the streets with 77 percent, although the share of white cars, the most popular colour overall, declined slightly. While the popularity of silver also declined, grey continues its success story with a share of 20 percent in the market. The chromatic segment gained slightly: almost every fourth car in Europe was painted in a chromatic colour, and within this segment, blue still leads the way by achieving 11 percent and, with a share of two percent, beige emerged significantly for the first time. “A need for softer and approachable surfaces results in the growing popularity of beige colour spaces – but they have to be modern and appealing to be accepted by the end consumer,” said Mark Gutjahr, head of Automotive Colour Design EMEA.

On the roads of North America, achromatic colours are clearly in the majority at 77 percent of the market, although the colour distribution is more balanced, since the most popular colour, white, only accounts for 29 percent of the overall distribution. In addition, North America is a global leader in the popularity of pickup trucks, and as they shift from utilitarian tools to luxury people-movers, they are trending toward deep, rich blacks, whites and a relatively high market share of red with 11 percent. “These aren’t your father’s pickup trucks,” said Paul Czornij, head of design for North America. “They are luxury machines, and they are adopting the colours you see in the luxury market’s design language.”

 In Asia Pacific, most vehicles are achromatic, with an unchanged 77 percent share. Almost every second car here remains white, the highest among all regions, with pearl white especially popular. The diverse shades, tones and effects of chromatic colour are characteristic for Asia Pacific and among these colours, blue is on top with seven percent. “Blue and white support the image of clean, pure and sustainable designs,” said Chiharu Matsuhara, head of Design Asia Pacific/Coatings Colour and Design. “Grey plays a considerable role for EVs, with unique effects such as semi opaque and silky colours which add to the futuristic image of new connected technologies, including ride-sharing and autonomous cars. New EVs are bringing new values and colour design to the automotive industry.”

In South America, white remains the favourite colour at 39 percent. “Initially linked to technology in early 2010, with the launch of mobile phones and other gadgets of this colour, white currently reinforces the ‘environmental colour’ aspect, being connected to cleanliness and purity of air and water as well as environmental preservation,” said Marcos Fernandes, Automotive Coatings Director at BASF for South America. Other achromatic colours are also part of the buyers’ preference: 23 percent choose silver and 14 percent grey. Among the chromatic colours, red keeps conquering the hearts of South Americans, with eight percent of the market, followed by blue and beige. “Red has its traditional presence as it is a vibrant colour connected to sportiness and beauty, in addition to being a colour that holds its resale value,” said Fernandes.

The BASF Colour Report for Automotive OEM Coatings is a data analysis from BASF’s Coatings division and is based on global automotive production and paint application to light vehicles in 2019.

Industry Partners