Any colour you like, as long as it’s black

We explore the latest trends in vehicle colours and how they reflect our collective mood


The automotive world has come a long way since those immortal words uttered by Henry Ford almost a century ago. Or has it? When it comes to car colours, whilst paint technology has advanced massively, customer tastes have not really moved on a great deal since the first Model T rolled off the production line.

Black took the top spot of car shades in 2017, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). More than half a million black cars were registered last year, 20% of the total market, overtaking white, which had been the favourite of motorists for the previous four years.

top 10 car colours 2017

Top 10 car colours 2017

Perhaps reflecting the somewhat gloomy economic outlook reported by the media, grey also staged a popularity comeback, moving into second place with white, blue and silver rounding out the nation’s top five colours of the year.

Over the past 20 years or so, colour experts and paint producers working with manufacturers have turned predictions and palette choice into something of a science, colloquially known as automotive chromatics. By tapping into ‘real world moods’ and looking into the latest research on the socio-economic landscape, colourists and technologists attempt to reflect consumer sentiment in the range of hues available.

According to paint manufacturer BASF, trends for 2017 were “influenced by the interconnection of digitalisation and social developments”, which prompted a significant rise in blue cars. Towards the end of last year, rival company PPG revealed four colour palettes for 2018-19 reflecting its view of different global trends and moods:

Hyper HD: A “colourful and impactful theme that welcomes self-expression, performance and modern technology” based around primary colours, aimed primarily at small and city car buyers.

I’m Perfect: A more organic palette “influenced by nature with subdued hues such as foliage greens as well as copper and brass metal tones.”

Knight’s Watch: Allegedly inspired by video games, this palette featuring blackened metal and dark jewel tones “provides sturdy reassurance for safety and security through traditional colours representing refuge and confidence.”

Lucid Dreams: At the other end of the spectrum, this group of colours “reflects calmness, sensitivity and privacy, portraying a refuge from technology overload with fluid, graceful design.”

According to PPG’s research, almost half of consumers want a greater choice when it comes how their car looks. A third said that they were willing to pay extra for a vehicle that “expresses their personality through colour.”

Colour firm, Pantone, predicts an increase in more organic shades over the next few years. Colours such as yellow and orange are growing in popularity for volume brand new car buyers in Europe, whilst more natural metallic shades such as bronze, copper and gold are making a return in the luxury sector. In fact, bronze entered the colour chart’s top 10 for the first time since 2011, replacing brown, demand for which fell by a third year on year.

Whilst the automotive manufacturers and their respective coatings suppliers continue to push the envelope, Autoglym is also at the forefront of research and development in surface technology. LifeShine, our vehicle protection system, just got even better. Newly formulated for 2018, a highly significant property is now included in the paintwork protection mix – colour enhancement. This means that a single application doesn’t merely protect the vehicle’s paintwork, it also provides superior depth of colour, helping to return even used cars closer to their former ‘as new’ brilliance. Tests carried out with four competitor products showed that the improved LifeShine product had a far superior depth of colour difference of up to 31%.

With dealerships turning to the used vehicle market amid falling new car sales, this will doubtless prove an invaluable tool, enabling them to further add value while increasing penetration rates on pre-owned vehicles.

To find out more about LifeShine and how it can benefit your customers and your dealership business, call us on 01462 677766.


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