Home » 2022 Proved Real Car Colors Aren’t Dead Yet

2022 Proved Real Car Colors Aren’t Dead Yet

Color Trends Top
ADVERTISEMENT

I’ve been grousing about the grim, grayscale, paying-the-gas-bill-level of excitement that is the current state of the automotive colorspace for years and years, to the point where I once actually reached out to Paul Czornij, BASF’s North American lead designer to ask him why the world is like this, and what happened to the era of orange family sedans and yellow hatchbacks and teal trucks? I asked him those questions because BASF North American releases a report every year about automotive color trends across the globe, and the results are always interesting, even if they tend to be disheartening to those of us who enjoy full-spectrum color vision (sorry, sharks). The report for 2022 is now out, and while the dominance of grays and whites and blacks continues unabated, there are a few, small gains made by actual, real, chromatic colors that may be just enough of a hook to support a small bag of hope. It’s not much, but it’s something, and I’ll take it.

For this past year, it seems the big news is that the achromatic (you know, grays, white, black) dominance is finally showing a few tiny cracks. According to the report:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Chromatic colors gain market share around the globe

As they have for several years, achromatic colors dominated the automotive market around the globe in 2022. But as BASF’s designers found in the company’s Color Report for Automotive OEM Coatings, the automotive color rainbow is expanding to allow colors like yellow, orange, green, and violet to take market share.

The most popular chromatic, actual colors that buyers chose instead of some gray miasma were reds and blues, making up five and eight percent of the global market. Here’s the full breakdown:

Globalcolors

So, the Grayscale Monolith still controls a shocking 81% of the market. And, it looks like blue and red, despite holding the highest chromatic percentages, dropped one percent, along with green, brown, and gold. But! There’s a surprise here, with violet – freaking purple – making a one percent gain and getting on the big board, along with yellow and orange! Hot damn! It also says green gained share, but then it also shows green dropping a point, so I’m verdantly confused.

ADVERTISEMENT

Man, violet, who would have guessed? I mean, we sure as hell champion the color here, but I’m a bit skeptical this was because of us. Was it? No. But a boy can dream.

Let’s look at the regional breakdowns:

Regions

For my fellow Americans looking for an actual, genuine, unassailable reason to be patriotic, here you go: America’s percentage of real colors sold on cars is up, a glorious, rainbow bulwark against the cloudy gray mass encircling the globe. From the report:

Blue is still on top, and the gap between blue and red is widening as blue continues its dominance. Achromatic colors like black, gray, and silver lost some market share, especially in larger vehicles. That allowed earthy tones like beige, brown, and green to increase, and violet to gain market share as car buyers’ tastes change.

Black, silver and gray losing market share? Damn, it feels good to read that. Of course, the achromatics still dominate in America, like everywhere else. There’s other interesting details to note, like how South America tends towards lighter colors and yellow, oranges, and greens making European gains, while Asia grows even grayer.

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s interesting to look at all of this over time, too. A couple years ago someone on Reddit scraped 3.5 million used and new car ads from Polish websites between the years 1990 and 2020 to come up with this graph of color distribution:

Colorovertime

Look at 1996! Achromatics were on the run! And look at all that green! Oh, and if you want to see the raw data, you can click here.

And this chart only goes back to 1990; going back further, you can see that our carscape was once vastly more colorful, like the earthtones and colors of the 1970s:

ADVERTISEMENT

…or the fearless pastels and two-tones of the 1950s:

So, while the global state of color in cars is still pretty boring, I’m going to allow myself to feel a little bit of hope, and maybe even a little bit of pride that America is leading the way back to color. Come on America! Let’s keep it going! And, rest of the world, don’t be afraid of color! Let’s push back the gray with a blast of cheerful yellows, elegant blues, vivid oranges, and, yes, glorious purples.

It’s time.

Relatedbar

What It’s Like Unboxing A 1-of-1 ‘Beauberry’ Ford GT

Here’s What Matt Farah Has To Say To You Forum Dorks Ripping On His Pink Porsche

 

Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.

ADVERTISEMENT

Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
64 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Uncle D
Uncle D
1 year ago

I remember when I thought matte gray was kind of interesting. That was when it was only on a few cars. Now it’s on everything.

After hurricane Ian flooded and ultimately totaled my daughter’s (used to be mine) blue car we had a really hard time finding anything not white, black, silver, or gray. When we stopped by the Kia dealership every single K5 they had was matte gray.

We ended up with a lovely dark metallic blue Mazda 3 which we had to wait for. One dealer offered to take off the paint color upcharge for a white one they had on the lot, but my daughter would not go for it. Had to be blue. Doing our part.

Jake Williams
Jake Williams
1 year ago

I’m trying to do my part to boost the real colors on these charts… I have banned my wife from buying white, black, silver, or gray cars. We currently both drive green cars (Volvo XC60 for her, F150 for me) and our last new car purchases were gold and orange. My wife’s next car will also be a real color, either Red or Green Rivian R1S. Just waiting on the green light email from them…

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 year ago

I’m currently doing my part while restoring my formerly white 280Z, which is starting to show some Nissan 920 safari gold!

Toobs-N-Stuff
Toobs-N-Stuff
1 year ago

just bought a new forester and really wanted something other than black white or grey. they had some nice colors on the option list but nothing at all available within any reasonable distance.

really wanted the red, ended up with a very nice, but not what I really wanted dark grey.

the problem is the dealers only order black white and grey.

BobWellington
BobWellington
1 year ago

My mom did her part and got a rather nice bright blue (Atlas Blue Metallic) on her ’22 Exploder. She was originally having a hard time deciding between that color and the Stone Blue Metallic, which is nice but much more subtle, and I convinced her to go with the former and it turns out she’s very happy with her choice.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
1 year ago

That video from late 60s,early 70s sure was sexy. Look at all the good stuff!

David Strausz
David Strausz
1 year ago

We got a new Sienna in 2021 and my only real requirement was that it not be white, gray or black. We lucked out and were able to get a blue one.

Martin Ibert
Martin Ibert
1 year ago

My car is bright sunny yellow. Well, below the waistline and above the wheels, anyway. I only ever had one black car, and that was because they didn’t have one that I wanted in a different colour and I didn’t have the time to wait for one to become available.

Hiram McDaniel
Hiram McDaniel
1 year ago

Who woulda thunk that my Sahara Tan Jeep Wrangler would be a stand out color? It’s tan!!

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
1 year ago

My wife lived in Japan at the start of the ’90s. At the time white cars were all the rage. The hilarious thing was when she’d ask people why everyone drove a white car, the answer was, “because it’s easier to find in a parking lot.” Yes, it certainly makes it easier to find A white car in the lot.

On a separate note, for years my son was keeping count of all the purple cars he saw—averaged a couple a month*, but some weeks he’d see 3!

*he was scrupulous about not double-counting, although it’s not like he was tracking license plates.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason Roth

Heh. Years ago I was borrowing my grandfather’s white 1973 F150 while my car was in the shop, and I drove it over to a friend’s house. When he answered the door, he wisecracked, “Oh, it’s you! Kim and I thought you were a guy from the City coming to shut off our water or something.”

SnackAttack
SnackAttack
1 year ago

I’m curious how the sonic grey pearl on many civics and accords is categorized, it’s certainly blue but Honda chose to call it grey to trick people into buying it I guess?

Adam
Adam
1 year ago

I switched from a blue model 3 to the gray color. To be honest the gray is a more interesting paint to look at because the metallic is a mix of silver and blue so you get some nice sheens out of it. That said I would love another green car or maybe even a purple if done right.

Tim R
Tim R
1 year ago

A plague of white cars. 39 percent? At that point it’s almost self-sustaining as most of the cars available on the lot are white, so it’s hard to buy an interesting color unless you special order.

Tom Herman
Tom Herman
1 year ago

What no one seems to have noticed is that most modern cars look like shit in colors. Don’t believe me? Crank up the old Photoshop and make a cream over teal Model Y. How about a Plum Crazy Accord? Something happened when the Stylists became Designers.

William Domer
William Domer
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Herman

I can only imagine that the cream over teal Model Y would be a huge improvement over the ubiquitous ugly elephantine look of it in white

Ben
Ben
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Herman

To be fair, cream over teal is unlikely to look good on anything. 😛

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

At least, anything made since approximately 1962.

64
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x