- The Washington Times - Friday, July 11, 2008

Dupont, one of the world’s largest global suppliers of paints and coatings, has the verdict on car color popularity. And the winner is white.

White beat silver in the recent survey after silver had held the title for seven years. Dupont’s survey of car color choices finds silver and black close behind.

White looks fabulous, especially on big cars like a Chrysler 300, Bentley, or Cadillac. In a world full of colors like eggplant, periwinkle blue, chocolate brown, arrest-me red and orange crush, why choose white?

“It’s bullet proof,” Jim Taylor, division general manager of Cadillac, says. “When GM designers introduced a new white for Cadillac there were so many protests from dealers and customers that they went right back to White Diamond, which is a premium, three-layered-process paint job that comes with a premium $995 price.”

Chris Webb, GM lead designer for exterior and interior says, “We look at color in fashion, interiors, architecture, cosmetics - everywhere. You see emerging colors on things like cellphone cases and lipstick packaging, but GM works within color families since, fashion changes every three to 18 months and our planning cycle is two years out.

We have completed research for 2011. There will be 22 new colors for all vehicles, all brands. Those colors will be finalized this October.”

Perhaps we are a society of color conservatives. In the last two oil crises, according to the Dupont survey, the top colors were beige in 1973 and white in 1980.

Even during the heat of the cultural revolution in 1964 car buyers chose off-white. The first year of the survey, 1953, the top color was positively daring - light green.

One of Dupont’s North American color designers, Nancy Lockhart, sees a range of blues becoming more popular. “The royal blues we see on the road today are going to trend toward lighter blues that contain reddish accents. We will also start seeing more water-like blues, a reflection of the ‘greening’ trend,” says Lockhart.

GM’s Chris Webb agrees we’ll see more blues. “You see it in fashion with British fashion designer Paul Smith’s Purple Label and Ralph Lauren’s Blue Label. Blues with a red shade, chromatic bright blue, water-spectrum blues are all coming. Blue will run the gamut and its popularity will continue for sometime.”

“Orange started small,” says Lockhart, “but it has become a very important color along with a reddish gold.”

“Orange emerged five years ago, notes Webb. “We thought it would be around for a year and now its mainstream chromatic. Even Martha Stewart color designers are finding that terra cotta is among the top 10 colors with their customers who traditionally use whites. It really hit the market running and you see it everywhere, even in household appliances. More than 7 percent of Hummers are orange; it’s become their halo color.”

After hitting rock bottom in the 1990s, green is re-emerging. You can guess why: products are being hyped as ecological, and in cars, more hybrids are coming. “You’ll see the whole spectrum of greens coming,” says Webb, “from blue green to silver-tinted green to dark British racing green.”

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