There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and white being the most popular car colour in the world.
In United States-based coatings company Axalta's most recent Global Automotive Colour Popularity Report, white claimed 38 per cent of the global market, making it the most dominant car colour for 10 years running.
In Australia, the makers of some of Australia's top-selling cars confirm white remains the top pick. Of the tens of thousands of Hyundai i30s sold in Australia each year, Hyundai says 48 per cent are white.
Meanwhile, the shade 'Snowflake white pearl' represents the largest proportion of Mazda CX-5s sold at 26 per cent, while Toyota reports white accounts for almost half of all Corolla sales (both sedan and hatch).
But change is underway, with less conventional colours on the rise, according to those who set the trends. Keep reading to discover the colours we'll see on cars in 2020.
Shades of blue
With Pantone naming 'classic blue' its colour of the year for 2020, the automotive industry has followed suit.
Axalta announced that its 2020 automotive colour of the year would be 'sea glass blue', "a green-blue shade with a versatile appeal across all regions and vehicle types" that "infuses tranquility with confidence".
"Various shades, from greenish-blues inspired by the ocean to navy blue, icy blue and denim blue, are also being found worldwide," Axalta said in its global report.
“Blue is most popular in North America and Europe with 10 per cent of vehicles. So, finding a blue to meet your personal taste is no problem.”
Jeffrey Liu, Colour Materials Design Manager at Ford, concurs that blue is the shade to buy in 2020.
"I was recently in Shanghai for the motor show and there was lots and lots of blue. I would describe it as a chromatic blue – not deep navy or neutral blue, but the bright ones, the strong cobalts, red-based blues or a vibrant teals," he tells CarAdvice.
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Manufacturers are all in agreement two-tone roofs are the design trend to try this year, replacing previous fads like matte paints and huge grilles.
A spokesperson for Toyota says the brand has also spotted the statement look popping up, particularly among its small passenger cars and SUVs.
"This is probably reflective of the younger buyers in these segments and the more fun and playful image these colours present," the spokesperson says.
Black is back. From wheels to interior trims to body accents, black is creeping its way up the popularity ladder and proving a worthy contender to replace white in the number one slot.
"For cars and trucks, whenever we look at the data, it’s always white number one and black at number two," says Liu.
"In the research we’ve been doing over the past two or three years, the silvers or gunmetals have dropped off considerably. Even the paint suppliers say the same thing. We’re seeing the blacks creep back in."
Playing it safe is a no-no for many buyers, with younger drivers pushing a move toward neon brights and bold primary colours.
"The younger profile of hatch showed a higher skew away from the silver towards brighter colours like red and blue, reflecting the desire for more 'fun' colours," a Toyota spokesperson reports of Corolla sales in 2019.
"A similar thing is happening with sports cars too, with a slight change away from traditional whites, silvers and reds with brighter yellows, oranges and blues becoming more available."
Ford's Jeffrey Liu also recalls noticing some statement shades emerging.
"The fluorescent thing really popped out to me. Colours [are becoming] so much stronger."
Liu says it's not only about colour, but about using texture to create visual intrigue.
"[We're seeing] different top coat finishes like chalky ceramics, dusty neutrals or a change in texture like contrasting a glossy surface with a textured surface," Liu explains.
"The Ranger Raptor has some of this already in there. We released a colour called conquer grey – we were inspired by Nardo grey – and we contrasted that with a low gloss, cast-metal finish.
"We were really surprised at the time because marketing almost challenged us on whether it would work, but the sales show it's actually quite a high volume of cars being bought in that particular finish."
Grey over silver
Once one of the most dominant colours on the market, silver is experiencing a decline in popularity across the board.
According to Axalta's report, silver dropped out of the top three colours in the world in 2019 and its 10 per cent popularity represents the lowest level the colour has had in more than a decade.
By contrast, grey increased in popularity by 2 per cent, giving it the top spot in Europe for the first time.
This was reflected in the sales of the Hyundai i30 in 2019, where grey was the second most popular colour after white, making up 15 per cent of sales.
"The new thing is accents," says Liu.
"When you look at sportsware and high performance products, everything is highlighted with some sort of accent, so we're seeing more of those reflective accents and bright pops of colour like fluro orange or a bright yellow.
"We’re going to see a lot block-colouring on vehicles, as well as drawing a really strong graphic across the car in a unpredictable spot."
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