25 percent of American cars are silver image

For the ninth consecutive year, the silver category, which includes charcoal and gray shades, has ranked as the most popular vehicle colour in the world according to data from PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG), the world’s leading manufacturer of transportation coatings.

In Europe, silver and charcoal (35 percent) were followed by black (22 percent), blue and white (13 percent each). These four colour categories comprise more than 80 percent of all vehicles in Europe. Red was fifth with 9 percent, followed by naturals (5 percent), green (2 percent) and other/niche colours (1 percent). White is perhaps the fastest-growing colour in Europe, comprising only 7 percent of vehicles just two years ago.

“White is considered to be very trendy and sporty by consumers in Europe,” said Reiner Mueller-Koerber, PPG manager, colour styling, Europe. “There is high demand to develop white with unique effects. This new interest in white will continue to be a challenge for the designers and technicians.”

In North America, silver and charcoal (25 percent) were followed by white (18 percent), black (16 percent), red (12 percent), blue (11 percent), natural colours (7 percent) and green (4 percent).

In the Asia/Pacific region, silver and charcoal (34 percent) were followed by black (21 percent), white (17 percent), blue (9 percent), red (7 percent), naturals (6 percent), other/niche colours (4 percent) and green (2 percent).

“Clearly, the automotive industry is moving toward more colour choices,” said Jane E. Harrington, PPG manager, colour styling, automotive coatings, in Troy, Mich., U.S.A. “Palettes are broadening as the number of models decreases and the industry consolidates. Going forward, automotive manufacturers are going to be relying on colour more and more to distinguish their brands.”

At this year’s annual Automotive Colour Trend Show, the coatings company presented its ideas for future vehicle colours. Titled “3D Colour” – representing “Design,” “Dimension” and “Differentiator” – the show included a collection of interior and exterior colours developed globally and inspired by fashion, interior design, industrial design, culture, commercial construction and nature. PPG presented automotive designers with 60 new exterior shades and 10 new interior shades for consideration in their designs of the 2012-2013 model years. The new shades were grouped in four themes based on vehicle type: “Dimension” for compact vehicles; “Perspective” for mid-size vehicles; “Surface” for hybrid vehicles; and “Depth” for luxury automobiles.

PPG introduced automotive manufacturers to new colours such as Champagne Silver, a tinted silver with a slight warm copper beige cast; Outer Space Blue, a deep, dark blue with a slight sparkle effect; Haute Couture, a black base coat with a high sparkle blue mid-coat that gives it an appearance inspired by a black designer evening gown with blue sequins; Quantum Rose, an interior colour close to a neon red; and Hulk, a colour developed in Australia that is bright green, just like its namesake.

In addition to the new exterior and interior colours, PPG added a computer-generated imaging demonstration to the show. This provides automotive designers with the ability to see some of the new colours as they might appear on new model vehicles.

In addition to colour trend forecasting, PPG is continuing to develop new paint technologies that offer automotive design options to enhance appearance and help manufacturers differentiate their brands.

One of the paint systems that PPG previewed at the show is a next generation of glass flake coatings. These are paints that include very smooth glass flakes coated with various metal-oxide layers. “Because of the coating’s narrow particle distribution and very smooth surface, this product shows extreme sparkle and brightness,” said Jerry R. Koenigsmark, PPG manager of colour design, North America automotive coatings. Koenigsmark said that the company hopes to make these coatings available commercially in the next two to three years.

PPG also highlighted its Chaos Sky White mica coatings. These are new shades of white based on synthetic micas coated with titanium dioxide (white pigment).

Additionally, PPG spotlighted its new inorganic infrared-reflective pigments. These coatings have very high solar reflectivity that helps to keep the vehicle cooler, reduce air conditioning use, and reduce fuel consumption.

On the forefront of innovation in decorative and protective coatings and environmental application concerns since 1924, PPG helps automakers advance coatings technologies and application processes.