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White, Black, Gray and Silver Remain Top Colors for New Vehicles

by | January 26, 2024

Global paint behemoth BASF just completed its annual review of the top color choices for new vehicles around the world and discovered that it’s a black-and-white world out there — or more precisely, it’s a white and then black world as they were the top color choices globally in 2023.

BASF Color Report 2023 for Automotive OEM Coatings

Automotive coatings giant BASF rolled out its annual color report, revealing the top choice is white.

The 2023 BASF Color Trend Report for Automotive OEM Coatings revealed white is the top color choice — or lack of color choice — followed by black, gray and silver. In fact, those achromatic shades accounted for 81% of all new vehicles in 2023.

White’s been the leader for several years, but its dominance is slipping, the company noted, while black is on the rise globally, chewing into white’s share of the market. As for gray and silver, those colors are seeing changes in preferences based on the region polled.

For example, in North America, there is a growing preference for lighter shades of silver over darker grays, officials noted. While in EMEA, the trend leans towards darker shades. This regional variation adds an intriguing dimension to the evolving color landscape.

Actual colors

BASF Global Overview colors 2023

BASF said that chromatic colors account for the remaining 19% of vehicle colors. This category includes a range of colors such as blue, red, brown, and beige, which continue to maintain their popularity among customers.

Among the chromatic colors, blue was the top choice in the U.S. as well as Germany. However, Europe offered no real consensus when it came to favorites.

Germany loves blue (11%),  according to the company, while Spain and the UK prefer red and orange (approximately 9%), France adores green (6%), and Italy shows its love for all the colors, with its share of chromatic colors being the largest among all five countries (30%).

“While the achromatic colors are still the most popular, each country appears to have its favorite place on the chromatic realm,” said Mark Gutjahr, global head of automotive color design for BASF.

“Different color distribution could be seen in each of the major EMEA countries, and in general. Our customers, the automakers, have left a lot of room for individuality and creativity in car dealerships now, and car buyers are taking advantage of that.”

North America’s choices

Achromatic colors in North America — white, black, silver, and gray — gained two percentage points overall. Consumers moved in a lighter direction after automakers retired several gray colors. Those were often replaced with shades of silver.

North America also had the highest share of red cars compared to other regions in 2023. However, red was not able to beat blue as the most popular chromatic color in North America.

“We’re experiencing the same shift that other regions are seeing,” said Elizabeth M. Hoffmann, color designer for North America. “The old standard color palette no longer applies. Lighter shades are getting more popular, taking market share from gray. More and more choices have effects pigments to give them intensity and excitement.”

Other color changes

Meanwhile Asia Pacific continuing to expand the new automotive color palette, where the share of chromatic colors in Asia Pacific was slightly up compared to 2022. The popularity of natural colors increased, especially green. Lighter colors became more popular, especially light grayish colors and silver, BASF noted.

Part of the reason Asia Pacific is more diverse in color is for the great variation of body types. Fresh shades can be seen in China’s New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) especially more green and purple-influenced colors.


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