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Dictating the Hues: Consumers, Technology Changing Car Colors

The Color of your car can say a lot about you.

The way technology is advancing, someday you’ll be able to change the color of your vehicle depending upon your mood.

Until then automakers are wowing consumers with a wide assortment of interesting colors.


For the 40th anniversary of its CL65 AMG, Mercedes-Benz announced the limited use of a new color that takes its traditional silver to a new realm.

The new Alubeam is said to gleam like liquid metal and appear to have been stretched over the car’s body. The effect would be emphasizing the 2008 coupe’s eye-attracting lines.

Alubaum silver paint on a Mercedes BenzThe German automaker said the metallic color is created by use of smaller pigment colors for a new, robust reflection of light.

Image from New Launches

Consumers Drive This Market

It’s not the only carmaker to focus on new and exciting new colors. They are aware that studies indicate exterior color is a big factor when consumers look for a new car.

According to the Color Marketing Group, color can be 85 percent of the reason someone buys a certain product.

That said, the list of most favored colors is changing like the wind, and even finishes with texture and a matte look are surfacing.

Some of it is consumer-driven – perhaps they are getting sick of seeing all the silver cars on the road – and some by technology that is expanding the ability of automakers to offer something new.

White Mercedes Benz

The Latest Trends In Car Colors

Forbes Auto recently reported that white overtook silver as the favored car color choice. Silver has been at the top of the list for the past seven years.
Image from Motive Mag

However, it was also indicated that the gap between silver and white was not insurmountable and the list could change. Also in the top three was black, which presents a strange picture of autobuyers shying away from more expressive colors like yellow and red.

On the other hand, General Motors recently noted the resurgence of brown, which it said in the past had “very negative connotations; it was earth, dirt and mud.”

Brown Mercedes BenzHowever with coffee shops popping up all over the place, the “Starbucks Effect” took over and we’re seeing more brown cars on roadways.

Often the way we see cars can differ from other items. For example, red in North America often exudes the stop sign, or danger. Yet many owners of red cars think hot, or fast.

Image from All World Cars

It would be hard to find the driver of a red sports car thinking “Stop.”

Green could indicate lucky, or money, for many Americans. It’s not the most popular color for an automobile – but maybe it will grow in popularity, considering the current “greening” trend.

Orange Mercedes BenzOrange
Some automakers are noting the comeback of orange, which according to Wikipedia can convey enthusiasm, or aggression.

Sometimes trends in car colors can frame the consciousness of the American public. Maybe the current seemingly never-ending Presidential election is influencing choices in auto colors.

Image from Madle

The Color of Cars, Technologically Speaking

Consumer Reports in August 2007 reported that emerging technologies are letting automakers come up with new stylish or even unique paint jobs to wow consumers.

GM car with orange matte finish paintA GM concept car showed off the company’s experimental matte finish. 

While a matte finish can be a challenge to produce consistently, the company apparently is progressing toward making it easier and more producable.

Technology also is allowing use of paints that can add texture, or even allow the eye to detect a change in hue. What’s next, the stucco exterior?

Image from Autospies

Some are pursuing finishes of multi-layer flakes that can make the car appear to change color depending on the angle viewed.

A sample of Scorched Penny PaintFor example, for a special-edition 2006 Scion xB Release Series 4.0, you can choose a color called “Scorched Penny” that changes from a copper tint to black.

There is something known as “color psychology,” involving the effect of color on human behavior and feeling. It seems automakers are aware.

But what would one make of white, which can change depending on the eye of the beholder?

White today can symbolize purity, innocence, or peace. But in past history people in parts of Japan and China wore white to funerals. It also can conjure up winter, or blandness, to some.

Yet according to Forbes Auto, people are choosing white for cars more and more. Clearly for enough people, white has significance.

Image from CNN