◼ Expanding colour spaces make the overall rainbow of automotive color broader
◼ White, black, grey, and silver still dominate for non-commercial vehicles
◼ Yellow, orange, green, and violet all gain market share
As they have for several years, achromatic colours dominated the automotive market around the globe in 2022. But as BASF’s designers found in the company’s Color Report for Automotive OEM Coatings, the automotive colour rainbow is expanding to allow colours like yellow, orange, green, and violet to take market share.
Despite the shift in colours, the achromatic colours – white, black, silver, and grey – followed a familiar pattern, coating the majority of the non-commercial vehicles produced in 2022. As it has been for several years, white is still the most popular car colour around the world for its classic, timeless beauty, and high resale value.
If buyers didn’t choose achromatic colours, they often went for blue or red. While those two colour spaces are still very popular, other chromatic colours like yellow, orange, green, and violet are all gaining market share in most regions of the world. This shows that BASF’s customers – the automakers – are embracing a wider range of diversity and breadth of colour than before.
The data cited throughout the report also shows that automakers produced more vehicles as they bounced back from the effects of the global pandemic and regional supply chain challenges.
EMEA: More colourful, even though its two biggest colours (white and black) also increased
Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) showed gains for its two most popular colours – white and black – and losses in market share for grey and silver. At the same time, the region got much more colourful.
Blue still has a commanding lead among chromatic colours in EMEA, but both blue and red lost market share. Orange started appearing in car buyers’ preferences, and yellow, brown, and green all picked up a few percentage points.
“White and black increased this year, but the bigger story is diversity in the chromatic colours,” said Mark Gutjahr, Head of Automotive Color Design, EMEA. “When you add the market share of yellow, orange, brown, and green, you can see more hues and diversity, reflecting a more nuanced colour palette and a depth and breadth of colour that has developed in the last year or two.”
North America: More chromatic colours like violet show up
North American car buyers have fewer choices for chromatic colours, but that doesn’t mean they’re choosing fewer chromatic cars, trucks, or SUVs. Blue and red are still dominant, but the region is more colourful than before as green, yellow, violet, and beige show up more often.
Blue is still on top, and the gap between blue and red is widening as blue continues its dominance. Achromatic colours like black, grey, and silver lost some market share, especially in larger vehicles. That allowed earthy tones like beige, brown, and green to increase, and violet to gain market share as car buyers’ tastes change.
“If you look at the heavy hitters among the chromatic colours, blue and red are on top. But with people turning more to nature, natural colours like green, yellow, violet, and beige are making their mark,” said Liz Hoffman, head of design, The Americas. “Car buyers are also looking for a vehicle colour that conveys their positivity.”
Asia Pacific: Increase of grey shades boosted the share of achromatic colours
As BASF’s designers saw in other regions of the world, white was also the most popular colour in Asia Pacific. The real focus this year is an increase in grey shades, hinting at a new era in the automotive industry, and the changing values and habits of car buyers.
While the total numbers aren’t huge, brown, green, and violet are all consistent in colour popularity. It will be a long time before they challenge white for the most popular, but for now, they add to the tremendous diversity of colour in Asia Pacific. That’s especially true among small vehicles and NEVs, which are selling in a wider range of colours.
Grey gained about six percentage points in popularity, taking market share from blue, red, gold, and brown.
“Grey is more attractive and popular than ever. Users never give up pursuing uniqueness and individuality in achromatic colours,” said Chiharu Matsuhara, Head of Design, Asia Pacific. “Some grey shades with blue or violet undertones are working their way into the market, with solid-like effects and also added colour pearl effects showing great diversity in the colour space.”
South America: The lightest region as white, silver, and beige dominate the market
Historically, South American car buyers have chosen more traditional, less flashy colours. Like other regions, white is by far the favourite, and grey beats black in market share for the achromatic colours.
For chromatic colours, red and blue were stable, while brown gained some market share. Those colours were most likely chosen for smaller vehicles. Larger cars and SUVs had the highest share of achromatic colours, including new and varied effects for grey featured on larger cars.
“South America is still a conservative region. Buying a vehicle in SA means you may not have the same variety of colours, but within each colour space, there are some really exciting and different effects,” said Marcos Fernandes, Director Regional Business Management, Automotive Coatings South America.
The BASF Color Report for Automotive OEM Coatings is a data analysis from BASF's Coatings division based on global automotive production and paint application to non-commercial vehicles in 2022.