Colour designers Mark Gutjahr and Corinna Sy with the colours they think will trend in the next five years.

Every year German chemical giant BASF, a leader in automotive paints, publishes a colour trends report - an attempt to predict, not what colours will be popular on cars next month or next year, but in five years' time.

And they've been doing it long to able to say, “We told you so”.

The paint designers at BASF - mostly young and all in love with colour - come from all over the world to sit down and quantify not only how the world's car (and motorcycle) buyers see colour but also why.

And in this year's report they say the ecology movement that's pushing the automotive industry away from fossil fuels will soon begin to change the colours they choose for their cars.

Prosperity - even luxury - and ecology are no longer perceived as mutually exclusive concepts.

Earth tones - from dark brown to bronze to gray and silver - will reflect a new ecological awareness, along with deep, elegant blue and dark green.

Metalflake and stong metallics, they say, will give way to a more subtle shimmer, embodied in dark blue, pale green and off-white.

More 'technical' colours will, however, be derived from new technology, such as LED blue, brilliant turquoise and sparkling pearl black, a colour that wasn't even possible until very recently.

Other new colours, they say, will be based on people's desire for individuality and will more likely be seen on premium vehicles, such as greige (a combination of gray and beige) or various shades of gold that can even move into reddish gold.


The continent is changing; cultural diversity will be accompanied by a new type of colour.

Head of colour design for Europe Mark Gutjahr said: “Starting with various browns with subtle effects that conjure up home and one's own roots, the trend will move toward exotic and bold, brilliant colors such as yellow, violet and emerald

“The combination of familiar and exotic effects will especially be seen among lilacs, shimmering through colourless, familiar greys, with matte clearcoats used more and more frequently.”

The 2005 BASF report predicted an upswing in brown and white; it took a while, but by 2010 the proportion of white cars among new registrations in Germany was up to 12 percent and that of brown cars was up from two to six percent.


US and Canadian car buyers are looking to reconnect to a stronger sense of meaning in their lives, says head of colour design in North America Paul Czornij.

“Living more ethically, rebuilding trust, and following core values will be expressed in colours such as deep, elegant blues, rich reds and greens from turquoise to pastel, either as metallics or solid colours.

“There is a push towards more non-metallic colours besides white, black, and red in North America as a result of the desire to live more simply.”


Changes are happening quickly in this dynamic region, says chief colour designer for the Asia Pacific region Chiharu Matsuhara.

“Our attention is focused on having a wider presence, a competitive environment, and achieving success.

“That will be reflected in the colours predominantly used in the automotive industry in the next two to three years - character colours with straight colour tones.

“High-quality silver and black project an image of intelligence and discretion and will likely remain popular as colours that symbolize success.”

For motorcycles, which have a wider market, she expects the popular colours to vary according to local markets. Among family scooters black, grey and pearl red, considered to be the most conservative and luxurious-looking colours, will be popular in growth markets such as India and China.

Young people buying entry-level scooters will be more likely to choose white and vivid solids, while purchasers of bigger, more expensive bikes will stick closer to the global trends.