BASF predicts car color trends for 2018 to 2019 based on human behavior

From "Atomium Sky" to "The Urbanist," intensive research into human behavior acts as a crystal ball into your future car's color.

Manuel Carrillo III Automotive Reviews Editor
A Porsche 911 S brought Manuel Carrillo III home from the hospital after he was born, so it's no surprise his lifelong trajectory has centered on cars, leading him to a robust career creating rich automotive media for publications prior to joining CNET.

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BASF Automotive Color Trends for 2018.


According to automotive supplier BASF, if you're in North America and you end up buying a car in the 2022 model year, it's likely to be painted a deep blue hue called "Atomium Sky" thanks to your upwardly trending interest in science and space travel.

That may feel like a stretch for you, but there's a load of research behind BASF's prediction. Every year the designers at the German chemical company put their fingers on the pulse of what's hot in tech and society, and use their data to predict fashionable future colors in their annual Automotive Trends Collection. The result is an assortment of 65 pigments they believe will be popular across specific sections of the planet such as North America, the Asia-Pacific region, as well as Europe, the Middle East and Africa, collectively referred to as the EMEA region.

Even though, according to BASF competitor PPG Industries, about a quarter of cars sold today are white, the Automotive Trends Collection suggests that blue is poised to take a bite out of white and other popular colors such as black and silver/gray.

But despite PPG's current-trend findings, Jane Harrington, head of the design group at PPG, has also noted in an interview earlier this year with Roadshow's Editor-in-Chief, Tim Stevens, that blue is poised to gain popularity in the coming years. "The automotive industry [has to] pick their colors two to three years before they're actually in the market," Harrington said, adding that their future-trend research jibes with BASF's. "Blue is a [growing] trend we've seen from color popularity data," she said.

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According to BASF, this penchant for blue hues is also associated with the public's proclivity for digital light emanating from the ubiquitous mobile device.

Car sharing is also affecting the color of automotive surfaces. As vehicles move from being bogarted to shared autonomous units, BASF predicts they'll be purchased in colors that offer a more universal appeal. "Kleur," a heavily saturated and vibrant red is a new shade from BASF that the company predicts will be popular on autonomous vehicles thanks to the hue's high visibility.

Autonomy, as well, will have its effects on vehicle paint. Not so much when it comes to color, but in terms of a chemical composition that can make darker hues more visible to lidar (light-based mapping). Additionally, paint finishes that prevent heat buildup, thus increasing a vehicle's energy efficiency in warmer climates, are expected to become more prevalent.

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Elsewhere in the world, as you might imagine, color trends vary. In Asia, for instance, BASF predicts its new "Gray Ambivalence" will mesh well with a culture that is taking the lead when it comes to humans interfacing with artificial intelligence, although its name for this metallic gray seems more reflective of a baby boomer's stance on millennials.

For the EMEA region, BASF forecasts "The Urbanist," a metallic anthracite, will appeal to future consumers, as it "represents the blending of humans and technology," according to its press release.

With the amount of research both BASF and PPG put into figuring out future trends in vehicle finishes, it won't be surprising if these predictions come to fruition. However, black, white and silver have been popular for so long that there's an uphill battle awaiting any color that wishes to nibble away at the dominant hues' market share.