Silver reached a new three-year peak in popularity throughout the world in 2002, driven by consumers’ correlation of the color with high-tech equipment, precision and performance.

Silver Supreme

Silver reached a new three-year peak in popularity throughout the world in 2002, driven by consumers’ correlation of the color with high-tech equipment, precision and performance, according to the 50th edition of the DuPont Automotive Color Popularity Report.

Silver’s popularity today is almost twice as high as in the late 1970s when it last dominated the color rankings trends. The color is predicted to remain strong for the next couple of years as new warmer gold or cooler blue hues give it more visual interest.

Silver, ranked 23% overall in North America, topped the color selections for luxury, full and intermediate, and sports/compact vehicle segments, and was a strong second to white for light trucks, vans and sport-utility vehicles. Second-place white was selected by 15% of consumers and black was the third choice at 12%. Blue, the second most popular color in Europe, continues to gain strength in North America as it replaces green.

Complementing the strength of silver, medium/dark gray made dramatic gains, capturing 7% of the color choices, up four places from last year’s North American standings.

“DuPont spotted the potential of silver several years ago, even as green was the dominant color choice in the U.S. and blue and white led in Europe,” said DuPont Automotive Color Marketing Manager Robert S. Daily. “Gray, whether dark and mysterious or pale pewter, will extend the influence of this family of neutral colors because it conveys a sense of richness, especially for luxury SUVs and light trucks.”

Right on the Money with Silver

Daily underscores consumers’ growing affinity for technology as a central factor in silver’s rapid rise. Equally important, he says that silver and techno-gray accentuate the crisp lines of today’s edgy designs for the new generation of luxury sport vehicles as well as full/intermediate-size passenger cars. DuPont is creating a range of textures through coarse or fine metallic flake effects for this and other trend colors.

“A color surge this strong generally runs a seven-year cycle, from its initial quick rise through its fall below the top three colors,” said Daily. “We continue our watch on the interest of blue as a possible leading color. Blue is the lone chromatic color choice in the top rankings otherwise dominated by neutrals such as silver/gray, white and black.”

DuPont 2002 color trend research also shows the following.

Blue, conveying calm, stable optimism continues to push down green. The former top color in the 1990s, green is stabilizing between 5% and 8% among top color choices in all vehicle segments.

Red metallics, expressing enthusiasm and energy, are shaking up the luxury and sport compact segments.

Light brown, at 6.4% of overall segments, continues to make significant gains in popularity.

Once a middle-of-the-road color, light brown has been infused with gold metallic effects, making current hues more vibrant.

Hot Cars, Cool Colors

Expressive niche colors supplied by DuPont, such as the coral finish on the Limited Edition 007 Thunderbird, is an example of how low volume colors are making a high-profile public impact. “While these colors may represent a romantic look into the past, they have been updated and revised for these modern classic designs,” said Daily.

That ‘70s Silver, a Prologue to Today

When silver last topped DuPont color trend charts in 1979, leading two-out-of-three vehicle categories, white and black also were among the top six vehicle colors. Browns and beiges had gained increasing favor by the end of the 1970s, as DuPont had predicted several years earlier. As automotive designers began to shift away from the “econo-box” profile, silver captured the emerging spirit of larger, more aerodynamic vehicle shapes and the emergence of light trucks and SUVs, which now account for over 50% of vehicle sales in North America.

“Certainly a factor in color selection is the durability of the finish,” said Daily. “Breakthrough chemistry has paved the way toward DuPont‘ SupraShield‘ scratch and mar resistant clearcoats that keep even black looking showroom-new for years longer. Also, DuPont has introduced its SuperSolids‘ technology that dramatically lowers assembly paint line emissions toward a goal of eliminating solvents in paint while also improving scratch resistance and overall durability of a vehicle finish.”

DuPont is the world leader in topcoat technology, which includes the color and protective coatings. In the United States, DuPont coatings are used on 9 of the 10 top-selling vehicles.

DuPont‘, SuperSolids‘ and SupraShield[tm] are trademarks of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.