Two recent international surveys, each conducted by a major manufacture of vehicle finishes, agreed on one thing - silver is climbing in popularity around the world, in almost every vehicle segment.
The reports, based on surveys conducted by DuPont Automotive and PPG Industries, showed that silver was by far the most popular automotive color choice of consumers in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. The continuing rise in the popularity of silver was identified by the annual DuPont Global Color Popularity Report, which has tracked current color choice and predicted future automotive color trends for more than 50 years.
Neutral or Natural
According to the PPG survey, silver - which is part of the neutral color family - led North American vehicle color popularity with 19 percent of the market, while white and red decreased slightly to 16 and 15 percent, respectively, compared to the 2000-model year. The natural color family - consisting of champagne, gold, and lighter shades of brown and orange - remained constant at 14 percent, followed by black and blue at 11 percent each, green at 10 percent, and small niche and specialty colors at 4 percent.
The trend to silver was mirrored in Europe, where neutrals, including white, black, and gray, accounted for more than 50 percent of new vehicles sold in 2001. Blue, while still popular chromatic color in Europe, has been displaced in the top ranking by achromatic neutrals such as silver and gray. However, blue is gaining strength in North America in both the metallic and solid versions for sport/compact and luxury vehicles. Blues with reddish tints are gaining popularity in smaller performance oriented cars, while gray/blues are popular with larger vehicles.
Silver an Expression or Lifestyle?
"Sophisticated automotive styling cues, such as the color silver, express the technology-driven lifestyles of today's consumers," said Robert Daily, color styling and marketing manager for DuPont Herberts Automotive Systems, the OEM coatings unit of DuPont Automotive. "We're seeing new vehicle designs with clean lines and sharp edges that are enhanced by silver."
His remarks were echoed at PPG. "Over the last few years silver has significantly increased in popularity among consumers," said William Michael, PPG director of global color technology - automotive coatings. "White and red - and blue in Europe - continued to maintain their traditional popularity," he said.
The move to a "heritage look" through classic colors such as yellow may be driven by consumers' need to connect with comfortable traditions while embracing a bit of optimism, according to Daily. Yellow tints also are spreading to traditional, nature-based colors including green as seen in spring fashion apparel. Black continues to convey a sense of authority and mystery for larger, high-end vehicles in North America and, to a lesser extent, in Europe.