White still most preferred colour for cars but its popularity is waning: BASF

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 09 Mar 2020

According to the BASF Color Report 2019 for Automotive OEM Coatings. white continues to be the most popular colour but its popularity is coming down.

‘Tis the season of colours and at Autocar Professional, we found this to be the perfect opportunity to get you an interesting nugget on colour preferences of automobile users across the world as per the BASF Color Report 2019 for Automotive OEM Coatings. It is interesting how ‘White’ continues to claim pole position across geographies but its popularity is waning across regions. In the APAC zone, India, Japan and China are seeing a rise in chromatic shades but in varying degrees.

About 39% of all cars were painted white globally but there is a twist in the tale. Although white is popular in every region, there are remarkable differences in the regional distribution. While in Asia Pacific almost every second car is painted white, only every third car in North America and EMEA is coated in this shade. 

Other achromatic colours – black, gray and silver – are the next three most popular options. Together, they coat another 39% of the cars that rolled off the assembly line in 2019. This trend also counts for the most popular car segment overall: SUVs. But the world isn’t just black and white. The other 22% of the world’s new vehicles were sprayed with a variety of chromatic shades in 2019. About 9% of the vehicles produced globally were blue, and 7% were painted red.

Analysing the chromatic segment shows that blue increased its share up to 9% and almost catches up with silver. The share of shades such as red, brown, green and orange is similar compared to the 2018 study. Beyond blue and red, brown and beige are starting to emerge, especially in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Colour preferences vary in the regions
A quick look at the broad colour preferences, as per the BASF 2019 study, indicates that:

Asia Pacific
The overall colour share is unchanged from 2018 with 77% preferring achromatic colours. White is still dominant at 49%. Red, which was in the top position for chromatic colours in past years, is replaced by blue which reached 7% share in 2019.

However, in African markets, white lost some share again and continues its downswing. White’s loss is proving to be Blue and Gray’s gains. However, beige steals the limelight here, emerging significantly for the first time.

North America
The crisp, clean white continues to be the colour of choice for new vehicles with higher technology. Achromatic colors dominate the market, with most vehicles white, black, silver, or gray. But in case customers do go for chromatic shades, it is most likely to be red, which edges past blue.

South America
The South American market is focused on bright achromatics, like white and silver. The share of red in South America is larger than in Asia Pacific and EMEA.

SUVs continue to rule but white losing its sheen
Though SUVs continue to be the most popular car segment, the colour choices in this segment appears to be going through some changes.

Asia Pacific
White stays on top with 48% share, followed by black, at 14%. Gray is gaining popularity and in chromatic shades, blue and red are tied at 7%. Blue increases in saturated and light clean tones.

Ranging from urban mini-SUVs to large and luxurious people-haulers, SUVs represent the largest vehicle segment. Gray gains popularity and is especially strong compared to other segments. Blue also increases its share while white continues to decline. Chromatic colours are more popular in smaller SUVs, while darker shades are popular in larger models.

North America
With many North American automakers exiting the sedan market, crossovers and SUVs – and their luxury counterparts – dominate the market. About 77% of the CUV/SUV market in North America are seen in achromatic shades like white, black, silver, or gray.

South America
Although white leads in volume, at 31% of SUVs available in this shade, it is less representative when compared to the total market. Silver, at 23%, and gray, at 18%, are the most popular choices for SUVs, and combined, the two beat white. Black, at 12%, and red, at 8%, are also in the preferred list. Brown and beige together account for 6% of the market, outperforming blue.

Diversity of colors and shades
The analysis of the three focus countries in Asia Pacific, in Japan, China and India show similarities like the high share of white in all three countries.

The achromatic color ratio is stable at 82%, the highest among the three countries. White’s dominance, at 61%, is stable as well. In chromatic colors, red has been replaced by blue at 6%, especially in the most popular segment – SUVs.

White makes up 47% of the market, popular and stable for its ability to reflect heat followed by silver at 13%, and gray at 11%. Red tops the list in chromatic shades, with 9%. It is reflected by B-segment vehicles, which have the highest volume in India.

Japan is most colorful among the three countries. The share of blue is high at 9%, followed by red at 7% and many other shades. Green and high chroma yellow get reasonable attention and many different shades and tones are seen in chroma colours too. Black too saw an increase in share.

All pie-charts sourced from BASF Color Report 2019 for Automotive OEM Coatings