As e-commerce accelerates the flow of information and trends worldwide, DuPont is predicting speedier, “e-volutionary” change in vehicle styling and color. As an indication, the company points to the rapid rise of silver as the most popular color for cars and trucks in Asia, Europe and North America.

This trend and the 10 most popular colors by major world region are reported in the DuPont Global Color Popularity survey for 2000. This marks the 50th year DuPont conducted the survey, which is used as a baseline for predicting colors that will sell on vehicles of the future.

“The world is shrinking fast and it no longer takes a year for a color trend to travel from New York to Paris or vice versa,” said Bob Daily, color styling and marketing manager for DuPont Herberts Automotive Systems, the OEM coatings unit of DuPont Automotive. “Today’s coatings technology also allows consumers to express their individualism without compromising product durability thanks to better pigments, improvements in metallic effects and advances in scratch- and mar-resistant clearcoats.”

As DuPont predicted a year ago, silver overtook the perennial leader, white, in nearly all vehicle categories in North America. White remained the most popular color for luxury vehicles due to new pearlescent effects using micro-sized mica flakes. Overall, black maintained its position as the third leading color choice. Blue, long a favorite color in Europe, continued to erode the popularity of green in all North American vehicle categories, including luxury, full and intermediate-sized passenger cars, sport and compact cars, and light trucks and sports utility vehicles. Gold emerged as a top 10 color in the light truck and sport utility category for the first time.

In regard to future trends, DuPont believes strong individualism of consumers will be expressed in extroverted “notice me” hues of yellow in some SUV-car crossover models. High chroma, the intensity of a color, will put more punch in reds and light blues for compacts and sports cars. Special-effect DuPont Chromalusion colors that change based on the viewing angle, and brilliant metallics for certain special edition cars and larger vehicles offer still more individualistic styling effects.

This trend is balanced with a more harmonious look, expressed in subtle neutrals, mainly in white and silver. These colors will feature “beg-to-be-touched” surfaces for luxury vehicles achieved through micro-mica flake for pearlescent coatings, according to the DuPont study.

Even as technology continues to make the world seem smaller, boundaries are also disappearing between automotive and the home appliance and fashion apparel industries.

Roseann Forde, DuPont fashion apparel director in New York City, sees the bond between these industries getting stronger as fashion and product design come together. “Fashion and automotive color preferences are very much in agreement, with blues remaining important along with a whole range of neutrals from silver and gray to brown,” said Forde.

Behind the color trends lies another major force driving the coatings industry — consumer demand for colors that last more than 10 years, the generally accepted lifetime of a vehicle.

DuPont SupraShield™ scratch and mar resistant coatings will enable cars to withstand the rigors of daily life such as car washes, shopping carts and ill-mannered birds.

DuPont is also continuously working on tough new coatings that offer ultra-low emissions for assembly plant application as they take vehicle protection from pollutants and bird and bee droppings to a new level. “It’s just not enough for automotive colors to be fashionable and look sharp,” said Daily. “They need to offer protection for and from the environment.”

With world headquarters in Troy, MI, DuPont Automotive offers more than 100 product lines to the global automotive industry including plastics, coatings, fibers, fabricated products, refrigerants, specialty chemicals and lubricants. DuPont worldwide automotive coatings sales currently exceed $6 billion.