TROY, MI - It's not often the world agrees on one thing, but in 2001, silver was deemed the most popular automotive color choice in Asia, Europe and the Americas. This trend was noted in the annual DuPont Global Color Popularity Report, which has tracked current color choice and predicted future automotive color trends for more than 50 years.

"Sophisticated automotive styling cues, such as the color silver, express the technology driven lifestyles of today's consumers," said Robert S. Daily, color styling and marketing manager for DuPont Herberts Automotive Systems, the OEM coatings unit of DuPont Automotive. "We're seeing new vehicle designs with clean lines and sharp edges that are enhanced by silver."

In North America, compared to a year ago, silver rose to the top color choice in the luxury category, while remaining dominant in the full/intermediate and sport/compact segments. Silver remains the second most popular color in the SUV/truck/van segment, but is fast becoming a contender for the lead.

Silver's success was mirrored in Europe, where neutrals, including white, black and gray, accounted for more than 50% of new vehicles sold in 2001. Blue, while still the most popular chromatic color in Europe, has been displaced in the top ranking by achromatic neutrals such as silver and gray. However, blue is gaining strength in North America in both metallic and solid versions for sport/compact and luxury vehicles. Blues with reddish tints are gaining popularity in smaller performance-oriented cars, while gray/blues are covering larger vehicles.

An ongoing retro-trend is also apparent, with the rise of yellow as a top-12 color over the past two years, and continued gains predicted for 2002. It is seen in pale shades and soft golden metallics for sport luxury vehicles with stronger hues adding punch to sporty cars and light trucks. The last time yellow experienced this level of popularity was when bright sun-colored VW Beetles tooled down the road to the tune of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine."

The move to a "heritage look" through classic colors such as yellow may be driven by consumers' need to connect with comfortable traditions while still embracing a bit of optimism, Daily said. Yellow tints also are spreading to traditional, nature-based colors including green as seen in spring fashion apparel. Black continues to convey a sense of authority and mystery for larger, high-end vehicles in North America and, to a lesser extent, in Europe.

"Accents remain important, and certainly in the United States, red, white and blue are highly visible in recent months on American roads as nearly every vehicle sports patriotic symbols to demonstrate national unity," said Daily. Red, white and blue are in the top five colors in three out of four vehicle categories for 2001, and will be a theme in a variety of new product concepts for months to come.

New dimensional flake effects will add new life to traditional colors, especially metallic red, while the new DuPont SupraShield(tm) scratch and mar resistant clearcoat technology will protect the mirror-like finishes of darker colors.

DuPont expects to see neutrals continue gaining popularity over the next two to three years, along with a wide range of blues and yellow-golds as automotive designers search for new ways to improve consumer appeal of vehicles through color.

DuPont Herberts Automotive Systems continues to be the world's leading supplier of automotive coatings. In North America, DuPont coatings were used on nine of the 10 top selling vehicles in 2001, as well as the leading sellers in Europe.