The BASF Color Report 2020 for Automotive OEM Coatings shows that the automotive colour palette is changing in unconventional ways, with a wider range of colourful hues rolling off the world's assembly lines. Diverse hues such as blue and yellow are on the rise in some regions, while red and purple are slowly closing the gap on achromatic colours in other parts of the world. As colour spaces expand, the overall spectrum becomes broader than in 2019 and gains brilliance. Despite the colour shifts, the achromatic colours - white, black, silver and grey - followed a familiar pattern and were used to paint the majority of new cars. White remains the most popular car colour in the world.
EMEA: Greater variety of bright colours and shades
Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) is following the global trend towards bright colours. In 2020, approximately 11 % of new vehicles in EMEA were painted blue, making blue the most popular colourful shade. Purple entered the market in significant numbers, further increasing the variety. Other chromatic shades are also gaining in popularity, especially among smaller SUVs, whose market segment is growing. Part of this diversity comes from the range of shades available. In the achromatic spectrum, white continues to lead the market at 28 % - ahead of grey and black. "Hue choices change with the size of the vehicle. Purple, for example, has established itself in mid-sized SUVs, but does not appear in significant numbers in smaller or larger SUVs," says Mark Gutjahr, Head of Automotive Colour Design, EMEA. "It's the opposite with yellow. It is used for very small and very large models, but not in the mid-size segment. These are specific and unique colour positions that appear across parts of the segments."
North America: Blue gains popularity
North American car buyers have less choice in colourful hues, but are not choosing less colourful cars, vans or SUVs because of it. Blue as a car colour has grown in popularity in North America, displacing red. Beige and brown have almost disappeared from the scene. This leaves green as the only other chromatic colour used in significant numbers in the region.
Asia-Pacific: Black and grey on the rise
Asia-Pacific is home to the world's largest volume of automotive production and is a microcosm of global colour popularity. While each region is different, Asia-Pacific's preferences mirror global data. Its vibrant colours reflect the emergence of chromatic colours seen elsewhere. White remains the most popular colour in the region and is used for about 48 % of new cars. Black and grey continue to gain, following a three-year trend that sees white weaken in its leadership position. Brown, green and purple totals are not high but remain steady in popularity.
South America: Conservative buyers choose more conservative colours
Traditionally, South American car buyers tend to choose more conventional, less flashy colours. As in other regions, white is by far the favourite. About 39% of new vehicles were painted white. The popularity of grey and silver is higher than in other regions, at 18 % each. Black is the least popular of the achromatic colours at 12 %. Overall, the achromatic shades have a share of 87 %. In contrast to other regions, red stands out as the most popular colourful shade with 9 %. Various shades of blue are very important worldwide, but in South America blue accounts for only 2 % of the market. Orange is a newcomer, brown is holding steady and beige has almost disappeared.
The BASF Color Report for Automotive OEM Coatings is a data analysis of the Coatings division based on global automotive production and painting of passenger cars in 2020.