In Europe, 35% of new cars are silver, while Asia goes even farther to 37%. North American buyers only choose silver 20% of the time, however, because white (18%) and black (17%) are both gaining ground. Red (13%) and blue (12%) are also popular, with categories like 'naturals' and 'other' bringing up the rear with 9% and 7% respectively. Green gets just 4% of the market.
While silver remains the most popular color even in North America, it isn't just a monotone silver anymore, says Jane E. Harrington, manager of color styling and automotive coatings for leading paint manufacturer PPG. "With advances in technology
and design, silver shades continue to evolve with the incorporation of hue shifts, color tints, aluminum flake size and appearance. Silver, along with black and white, is offered on every vehicle line as part of the core color palette, which also increases its popularity."
Black is even more popular in Europe than Silver is in the U.S., however. At 24% of the market, it's still well behind silver, but doubles the percentage of blue cars sold each year, though at 12%, blue is still the third most popular color in Europe. Part of the increase in color popularity for black, white and other shades comes from the auto show circuit and concept cars. Matte colors are also growing in popularity thanks to these sources.
"For the second consecutive year, blue was the favorite color selected by the 1,200 potential car buyers PPG polled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January," Harrington said. "Blue will be the new major color area for the coming years," said Reiner Mueller-Koerber, PPG manager, color styling, Europe. "Dark blues have the potential to replace traditional dark grays and blacks, while lighter blues can be seen as variations of tinted silvers. Blue has the ability to cover the spectrum, from rich and deep to clean and fresh."
As automakers chase the elusive 'hot new color' PPG is working on new paint technologies and techniques to create complex colors that present more visual stimuli, and also to create 'functional effect' colors: colors that aren't purely decorative, but also perform some job for the car or driver. While PPG isn't explicit on what exactly those functions might be, it's easy to imagine matte black areas to mitigate glare or super-durable paint colors in areas subject to high wear or abrasion. Self-cleaning paint is already on the horizon, so that's another potential function that could be headed to production soon.