When creating a new car color, our designers have to look at a diverse range of societies and predict how changing moods will affect color preferences. The designers then combine that with knowledge of how trends in design disciplines are changing to create colors that look on-trend, nearly half a decade after they were developed. Once the design team has a feel for where design trends are heading, they put on their social scientist hats.
During the 2008 financial crisis, economic concerns drove people to worry more about the resale value of cars. As a result, conservative colors dominated vehicle sales, as buyers tended to prioritize appeal to future owners over self-expression. Religion, politics and values are different in each country, making the job of people who predict car color trends especially tricky.
In India, the hot climate makes lighter colors more popular. While in China, a country where people’s attitudes and values are changing fast along with the pace of development – in the last couple of years this has meant white becoming less popular as car owners become more confident, expressing themselves with different colors.
It’s not just socioeconomic and cultural conditions which influence color trends – the type of car plays a part too. Large sedans are associated with business and luxury, so developing a hot pink – for instance – would be a waste of time. Smaller sedans like the China-only Escort are family cars, so fresh and inviting whites appeal. SUVs nod to the outdoors lifestyle, so natural bronzes and coppers work well. Pickup trucks have traditionally been seen as rugged workhorses, so bright shades are not a natural fit, though that has begun to change with the popularity of the Ford Ranger WildTrak in Pride Orange.
Across most vehicle types, there are staple colors that don’t often change. These include whites, blacks and solid colors like reds. These colors perform consistently so aren’t often updated. But periodically, advances in paint technology make changing the color worthwhile. Staying on the pulse of design trends across multiple different cultures is a real juggling act, but our design team is constantly on the lookout for the next big hit.