Blue most popular chromatic color on vehicles – BASF Color Report for Automotive

The global company’s annual report breaks down car color trends for 2020.

The automotive color “Billowing Blue“ by BASF
In North America, blue gained more popularity as an automotive color — this prototype color here is 'Billowing Blue,' made by BASF Coatings division.


As early as 2016, BASF designers described blue as a “major color direction for the automotive industry that will gain market share in upcoming years.”

Automotive designers often look 3-4 model years ahead when developing colors, and the market has played out exactly as predicted.

According to the BASF Color Report 2020 for Automotive OEM Coatings, in North America, blue gained more popularity as an automotive color, edging out red, while beige and brown dropped off the list. Worldwide, about 11% of new vehicles in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) were coated in blue, making it the most popular chromatic color.

Shades of blue are more elegant, and buyers who may have chosen beige or brown seem to be moving to blues and grays, per the report.

There’s a lot to get excited about with the bright colors we’re seeing,” said Paul Czornij, head of design, BASF, Americas. “Just as we predicted three or four years ago, blue is having a moment in the sun, and we’re using some beautiful effects and pigments that advance possibilities of hue and texture in this important design space.”



The global company’s Coatings division comes out with its annual global analysis of color distribution for the current automotive market based on global automotive production and paint application to light vehicles that year. The exclusive BASF data was gathered in collaboration with four design studios from different parts of the world that included North America, EMEA, Asia Pacific and South America.

This past year, the report shows the automotive color palette shifting in unconventional ways, unveiling a wider range of chromatic colors rolling off the assembly lines. Diverse shades such as blue and yellow are making gains in some regions, while red and violet are slowly cutting the lead held by achromatic colors in other parts of the world. (A chromatic color is one that has even the slightest amount of hue.)

'Parolis Purple' color created by BASF Coatings.
This 'Nation Tide' red  color was also created by BASF Coatings division.

The expanding color spaces made the overall spectrum broader than 2019 and added a flash of brilliance.

Despite the shift in colors, the achromatic shades (such as black, white, silver or gray) followed a familiar pattern, coating a majority of the vehicles produced. As has been the case for years, white is still the most popular car color around the world. It has a classic, timeless beauty and a connection to both the environment and high technology.

The data cited throughout this report shows lower total vehicle production than years past; and includes periods in 2020 when automakers had to shut down due to COVID-19 as the global pandemic has deeply affected the mobility economy and the world.

To learn more about the BASF Color Report 2020 for Automotive OEM Coatings, click here.

To catch BASF's Head of Design Paul Czornij discussing popular auto colors on The Henry Payne Car Radio Show Live, click here.


Published Jan. 26, 2021

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