PPG Industries recently released its annual automotive color popularity data. While research conducted by the company found that nearly 60 percent of consumers identified color as a major factor in their vehicle-buying decisions, automakers continue to sell a vast majority of cars (nearly 75 percent) in conservative colors such as white, black, gray and silver.

According to PPG’s global build data, white was the most popular color (up 7 percent from last year to 35 percent), followed by black (17 percent) and silver (12 percent). In Asia Pacific markets, white remains most popular (44 percent, up from 31 percent in 2014), followed by black (16 percent, falling 4 percent year-over-year), natural and silver (tied at 10 percent each), and gray (7 percent).

Additionally, in research that PPG conducted among consumers in the United States and Europe, three in five respondents (59 percent) said color was a major factor in their vehicle-buying decisions. In fact, more than half of respondents said that if the color they wanted was not available on the lot, they would wait for it to become available before finalizing their purchase instead of purchasing a vehicle in a second-choice color.

 “Our research indicates that global car manufacturers have good reason to give their brands and models a unique appearance using color and effects,” said Jane E. Harrington, PPG Manager, Color Styling, Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Coatings. “Color and styling choices by OEMs must be responsive to these differences among potential buyers. They need to consider everyone from technology-focused millennials to family focused baby boomers, monitoring sales data and style trends to try to predict two or three years in advance of a model year what colors and effects they will offer.

 “With a full spectrum of colors that can range in appearance from bright sparkle to silky pearlescence, carmakers today have an endless variety of options. Because we know selecting the right look for a specific brand is very important to each automotive company, PPG helps our customers develop distinctive colors to enhance their future vehicles,” she added.

Trend highlights from the 2015 data for specific countries include:

  • In China, the popularity of white skyrocketed (57 percent, up from 32 percent last year), followed by natural shades such as golds, beiges, yellows, oranges and browns (15 percent), black (10 percent), red (8 percent) and silver (5 percent).
  • In Japan, white is most popular (32 percent), followed by black (20 percent), silver (14 percent), blue (13 percent) and red (7 percent).
  • In South Korea, white is most popular (39 percent), followed by gray (19 percent), black and (17 percent) and silver (11 percent).
  • In the Southeast Asia region, white is most popular (37 percent), followed by silver (18 percent), black (12 percent) and gray (10 percent).

In China, the data revealed that white led by a wide margin in every vehicle segment for 2015 builds. Even for luxury vehicles, which have been predominantly black in China in recent years, 47 percent manufactured in 2015 were white and only 28 percent were black. Also, mini cars and minivans in China were most likely to be colorful, with both segments accounting for the highest percentages of blues and reds.

Looking to 2016 automotive models, Harrington said the PPG forecast predicts drivers will see more vehicles in shades of blue and orange. Reviewing featured models at international auto shows is an important trend-forward focus, she said, noting that the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit highlighted vehicles in “great layered blues” and the International Geneva Motor Show this year introduced important models wearing orange- and copper-influenced finishes.

PPG Automotive Color Palettes for 2018-2019 Models

In response to continued demand for color innovation in automotive coatings, PPG introduced 64 exterior shades to manufacturers for consideration in styling 2018-2019 model year vehicles. Titled “AMPLIFY,” the collection includes four color-trend story palettes:

  • Hyper HD is a colorful and impactful theme that welcomes self-expression, performance and modern technology. The palette includes an extroverted blend of virtual and real-world enhanced color – a mix of dazzling bright hues with the layered effects of tinted clears and tri-coats.
  • IM perfect is a global trend named as a play on words, celebrating the perfection of imperfections and authenticity in individuals living their best lives and focusing on their uniqueness with an emphasis on wellness. This more organic palette is influenced by nature, with somewhat subdued hues such as foliage greens as well as copper and brass metal tones.
  • Knight’s Watch is a stronghold theme providing sturdy reassurance for safety and security through traditional colors representing refuge and confidence. Like a silent guard, the visual code of this palette communicates strength and protection with dark, dramatic jewel tones and blackened metal shades.
  • Lucid Dreams reflects calmness, sensitivity and privacy, portraying a refuge from technology overload with fluid, graceful design. The palette consists of pastel tones with slightly more color as interpreted in metallic whites, mint greens, anodized gold /beige tones and sky blues.

PPG engages a global network of more than 20 color experts with a focus on automotive, architectural, aerospace and consumer-products markets. These specialists analyze design trends, consumer preferences and priorities across regional, cultural and global markets to determine factors that will influence future color choices. The new colors and palettes introduced this year for automotive manufacturers reflect developments across these markets and influences.