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White still dominates BASF’s analysis of the 2019 automotive color distribution

Overall color distribution also reflected in the SUV segment

Whether driving the Interstate highways of America, the Autobahn in Europe, or the Asian Highway Network, chances are, one will see more white cars than any other color on the road. This is one of the central results of the BASF Color Report 2019 for Automotive OEM Coatings. About 39% of all cars built around the globe were painted white. Behind that number is an interesting shift: Although white is the most popular color in every region, there are remarkable differences in the regional distribution. While in Asia Pacific almost every second car is painted white, only every third car in North America and EMEA is coated in this color.

Other achromatic colors – black, gray and silver – are the next three most popular colors. Together, they coat another 39% of the cars that rolled off the assembly line in 2019. This trend also counts for the most popular car segment overall: the SUVs. But the world isn’t just black and white. The other 22% of the world’s new vehicles were sprayed with chromatic colors in 2019. About 9% of the vehicles produced globally were blue, and 7% were painted 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.

Subcompacts and other smaller vehicles are more likely to have a blast of color. Beyond blue and red, brown and beige are starting to emerge, especially in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

EMEA: White declining, gray rising and beige surprising

With a share of 77%, achromatic colors still dominate the picture on the streets in the EMEA region, although the share of white cars, the most popular color overall, dwindled slightly. While the popularity of silver also declines, gray continues its success story with a share of 20% in the market. The chromatic segment slightly gains: Nearly every fourth car in Europe was painted in a chromatic color. Within this segment, blue still leads the way by achieving 11%. With about 160 different shades it is also front runner in color diversity. With a share of 2%, beige emerges significantly for the first time: “A need for softer and approachable surfaces results in the growing popularity of beige color spaces – but they have to be modern and appealing to be accepted by the end consumer,” said Mark Gutjahr, head of Automotive Color Design EMEA.

Effects are an important design instrument as they highlight the shape of a car and offer a special appearance. Therefore, a deep dive into effect colors was part of the evaluation. Especially dark paints are often combined with effect pigments. White colors dominate as solids. In addition, the analysis shows a high share of effect colors among the chromatic color palette.

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