For the ninth consecutive year, the silver category, which includes charcoal and gray shades, has ranked as the most popular vehicle color in the world according to data from PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG), the world's leading manufacturer of transportation coatings.
In North America, silver and charcoal saw a strong increase in popularity from 20 percent in 2008 to 25 percent this year. White was second (18 percent), black was third (16 percent) and red was fourth (12 percent). These four color categories comprise well over two-thirds of all vehicles sold in North America. Just 15 years ago, the most popular color on vehicles in North America was green with 21 percent, while silver had only 8 percent in 1994.
"What helps drive silver's popularity are all of the innovative effects that really make silver shine … much more than just a simple gray," said Jane E. Harrington, PPG manager, color styling, automotive coatings. "Silver tones work well with today's tinted metallic textural looks. The diversity of silver, from subtle hue shifts to dimensional metallic flake appearances, works with a variety of vehicle styles."
In Europe, silver and charcoal (35 percent) were followed by black (22 percent), blue and white (13 percent each), red (9 percent), naturals (5 percent), green (2 percent) and other/niche colors (1 percent).
In the Asia/Pacific region, silver and charcoal (34 percent) were followed by black (21 percent), white (17 percent), blue (9 percent), red (7 percent), naturals (6 percent), other/niche colors (4 percent) and green (2 percent).
"Clearly, the automotive industry is moving toward more color choices," Harrington said. "Palettes are broadening as the number of models decreases and the industry consolidates. Going forward, automotive manufacturers are going to be relying on color more and more to distinguish their brands."
At this year's annual Automotive Color Trend Show held at PPG's offices here, the coatings company presented its ideas for future vehicle colors. Titled "3D Color" - representing "Design," "Dimension" and "Differentiator" - the show included a collection of interior and exterior colors developed globally and inspired by fashion, interior design, industrial design, culture, commercial construction and nature. PPG presented automotive designers with 60 new exterior shades and 10 new interior shades for consideration in their designs of the 2012-2013 model years. The new shades were grouped in four themes based on vehicle type: "Dimension" for compact vehicles; "Perspective" for mid-size vehicles; "Surface" for hybrid vehicles; and "Depth" for luxury automobiles.
PPG introduced automotive manufacturers to new colors such as Champagne Silver, a tinted silver with a slight warm copper beige cast; Outer Space Blue, a deep, dark blue with a slight sparkle effect; Haute Couture, a black base coat with a high sparkle blue mid-coat that gives it an appearance inspired by a black designer evening gown with blue sequins; Quantum Rose, an interior color close to a neon red; and Hulk, a color developed in Australia that is bright green, just like its namesake.
In addition to the new exterior and interior colors, PPG added a computer-generated imaging demonstration to the show. This provides automotive designers with the ability to see some of the new colors as they might appear on new model vehicles.
In addition to color trend forecasting, PPG is continuing to develop new paint technologies that offer automotive design options to enhance appearance and help manufacturers differentiate their brands.
One of the paint systems that PPG previewed at the show is a next generation of glass flake coatings. These are paints that include very smooth glass flakes coated with various metal-oxide layers. "Because of the coating's narrow particle distribution and very smooth surface, this product shows extreme sparkle and brightness," said Jerry R. Koenigsmark, PPG manager of color design, North America automotive coatings. Koenigsmark said that the company hopes to make these coatings available commercially in the next two to three years.
PPG also highlighted its Chaos Sky White mica coatings. These are new shades of white based on synthetic micas coated with titanium dioxide (white pigment).
Additionally, PPG spotlighted its new inorganic infrared-reflective pigments. These coatings have a very high solar reflectivity that helps to keep the vehicle cooler, reduce air conditioning use, and reduce fuel consumption.
On the forefront of innovation in decorative and protective coatings and environmental application concerns since 1924, PPG helps automakers advance coatings technologies and application processes.