Chevy’s Top Color Designer Says More Colorful Cars Are Coming Soon

Grayscale colors have been North America’s top choice for 25 years now. This may be the decade that changes.

byJames Gilboy| PUBLISHED Feb 8, 2023 6:00 PM
Chevy’s Top Color Designer Says More Colorful Cars Are Coming Soon

Grayscale whites, blacks, silvers and grays have overshadowed real, chromatic colors in automotive paint for 25 years now. But that may be about to change, as GM's Director of Global Color Jennifer Widrick says we're about to see a chromatic color resurgence in the next few years—and it's about damn time.

Widrick's predictions were published in Chevrolet's company magazine, New Roads, and online. Her team is tasked with guessing color preferences as far as five years out—around model year 2028 for math majors. She says the colorless hegemony of the past 10-plus years is about to be broken by a color renaissance, not to mention a renewed interest in two-tone schemes.

2024 Chevrolet Trailblazer Activ in Copper Harbor Metallic. Chevrolet

Widrick reportedly predicts lighter colors—especially vibrant primary and compound colors—from red and blue to orange and green are due to come back. They may already be starting their journey, as GM paint supplier BASF noted in its 2022 automotive paint color report that some of these shades are already on the rise. In particular, it notes rising popularity for yellow, green, orange, and violet.

BASF's fellow automotive supplier Axalta (formerly DuPont) however doesn't indicate we're out of these bleak, dead woods of boring car colors yet. In 2022, grayscale colors (including silver) remained the most popular choice by far, accounting for an overwhelming 82% of new vehicles. White remained the most popular color in North America for the 16th year straight, with gray and black coming in second and third respectively for the second year. The three have been North America's top choices since 1998.

Axalta's automotive paint color choice trends. Axalta

But a glimmer of colorful hope is on the horizon, because blue achieved the fourth-place spot for the second year running. Prior to 2021, the highest place any other color achieved was fourth back in 2008—also blue, and that was just for one year. It's too early to say that colorful paints are back and here to stay, but it's certainly a promising start.

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