2011 DuPont Global Automotive Color Popularity Report Insights

White/white pearl emerged as the fastest growing color in 2011 to tie with silver as the world’s leading automotive color choices. This according to the 2011 DuPont Automotive Color Popularity Report released in November 2011.

A substantial increase in the popularity of white/white pearl globally has enabled it to surpass longstanding rivals black and gray, to join silver at the top of the world color ranks in the 2011 report. The DuPont report, in its 59th year, is the longest running and largest of its kind in the industry, includes automotive color popularity rankings and regional trends from 11 leading automotive regions of the world.

In 2010, white/white pearl was tied for third with gray in the world color ranks with just 16 percent share, but its ongoing popularity in North America, combined with a surge in popularity in Europe, China, Korea, South America and South Africa, has helped to increase its position in 2011 to 22 percent globally. Black and gray dropped to third and fourth, respectively, in the 2011 report with red and blue strengthening and holding positions in fifth and sixth place.

The top global vehicle colors in DuPont’s report are as follows:

  •  White/White Pearl and Silver – tie, 22 percent
  •  Black/Black Effect – 20 percent
  •  Gray – 13 percent
  •  Red – 7 percent
  •  Blue – 6 percent
  •  Brown/Beige – 5 percent
  •  Green – 2 percent
  •  Yellow/Gold – 1 percent
  •  Others – 2 percent


“While white/white pearl has historically been a popular color for vehicles, we’ve seen a bigger shift in its popularity this year than DuPont expected,” said Nancy Lockhart, DuPont color marketing manager.

2011 Automotive Color Popularity

Silver and black have long been recognized in the top three for color popularity. However, in the past few years, white/white pearl has been steadily growing in popularity outside of North America. In 2011, it jumped by more than four percentage points, according to Lockhart. “There has been increased consumer acceptance for white, and our OEM customers are meeting consumer demand for the clean look it brings to vehicle design,” she said. “Silver and black were once the top colors of luxury, but white has increased in this area.

The overall trend for casual luxury has spread to numerous vehicle types. The expectation to have a luxurious feel to the vehicle is globally sought. Classic white and pearlescent white effects are inspiring luxury design

North America: White/White Pearl Continues its Lead, Followed by Black and Silver
White/white pearl, with 23 percent market share, dominated North American vehicle color for the fifth consecutive year, led by the truck/SUV segment, with 29 percent. The intermediate/CUV segment found white to rise from 16 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2011. Black/black effect captured 18 percent in the region, and led popularity in the luxury vehicle segment, while black effect continues to increase over solid black on luxury segments. Silver decreased with 16 percent share overall in the region, but continued to lead the compact segment in North America with 20 percent. Gray had 13 percent of the market and was in fourth position across all segments, and red maintained its fifth place rank with 10 percent of North American market share overall. High impact colors of bright blues and yellows with tempting hues of brown/beiges and greens continue to fill the region with colorful choices.

Europe: Luxury Segment Continues to be Dominated by Black
In Europe, black/black effect continued its popularity, with 25 percent share, led by the luxury/luxury SUV segment, with nearly 40 percent segment share. Black/black effect has maintained its leadership in the region since 2007. DuPont expects this trend to continue in the near future, especially regarding black effect. White/white pearl made a surprising surge of about five percentage points over 2010, to reach 20 percent share, which is primarily because of the popularity of solid white across all model segments.

“White also is seen as inspiration for the ecological megatrend in Europe, because it represents modern minimalism and future technology,” said Elke Dirks, DuPont color designer for Europe. “This trend also resulted in a considerable increase in white/white pearl in the luxury segment,” she explained.

Gray (18 percent) and silver (15 percent) decreased in popularity this year, and blue rounded out Europe’s top five colors with 7 percent of the vehicle market.

Silver Tops in China, South Korea; Japan led by White/White Pearl
Silver topped the Asia Pacific region overall with more than 25 percent share in the region and repeated its No. 1 position again this year in China and South Korea. White/white pearl was second overall in the Asia Pacific region, with slightly less than 25 percent of the market, led by Japan and India, where it ranked as the No. 1 color in those countries.

In China, silver topped the market with 26 percent share, though it fell seven percentage points from 2010. Black/black effect was No. 2 in China again this year, but dropped more than nine percentage points, as blue has increased in the small car segment and other colors are more widely used for vehicles in China. The decrease in black is evident as blue shows increased usage in the small car segment and other colors are more widely used.

Japan’s color popularity was led in this year’s report by white/white pearl, with 26 percent share, down from 28 percent in 2010. Black/black effect also saw a decrease, to 20 percent share, but it overtook the No. 2 spot from silver, which ranked No. 3 in this year’s report with 19 percent. Blue (9 percent) and gray (9 percent) completed the top five in Japan, with gray increasing 4 percent over last year.

“In the Asia Pacific region, we are seeing color trends shift to nature and the environment with the color blue,” according to Kumiko Ohmura, DuPont color marketing manager, Asia Pacific. “We’ve seen a decrease in black, as blue increased in the small car segment and other colors are more widely used in all segments,” she continued.

In South Korea, silver represented nearly 30 percent of the market in 2011, followed by white/white pearl at 25 percent. Black/black effect slipped to third position in South Korea with 15 percent, down nine percentage points from 2010.

In India, light shades continue to top the charts with white representing 28 percent of the market, silver following closely with 27 percent, and gray in third position in the country with just 9 percent share.

South America, Brazil: Silver Tops Vehicle Color Choice
Silver led the South American market with 30 percent share and also was the color of choice in Brazil. The second most popular color in South America, black/black effect, represented 19 percent of the region and white/white pearl was third in the region, with just 17 percent of the overall South America market, and similar share in Brazil.

White/White Pearl Tops South Africa; Russia Prefers Black
South Africa had the world’s highest market share of white/white pearl of any region or country analyzed by DuPont in this year’s report, with those vehicles representing 40 percent share. Silver followed, with nearly 22 percent market share, and black/black effect rounded out the top three with nearly 12 percent share.
In Russia, black/black effect is the most popular car color, with more than 23 percent market share. Silver ranked second, with just over 22 percent and white/white pearl represented nearly 15 percent of the market.

Of note, green captured 7 percent of the market in Russia, and though its share decreased from 2010, it is still more than any other region included in the DuPont report.

DuPont 2011 Trend Show “Sense of Color” Showcases Emotions and Dynamics of Color
In addition to its 59th Global Automotive Color Popularity Report, DuPont develops an annual color trend show to share with the world’s leading automotive manufacturers as they seek to develop color palettes for future vehicles. This year’s trend show, Sense of Color, showcases the emotions and dynamics of color. The senses play an important role in understanding if a color is loud or quiet, powerful or somber, exotic or sophisticated.

DuPont Performance Coatings demonstrates the influences of colors by how tasteful, touching reminiscent or calming a color will react with consumer preferences and moods. The 2011 DuPont trend show is segmented into four groups, as follows:

“Déjà vu” – The colors in this group are intense and meaningful as DuPont remembers similar versions of these colors from the past. Rich greens and reds, like “Green Velvet” and “Flashback” are historic colors that symbolize thoughtfulness, heritage, comfort and stability. New sparkling effects and intense colors bring a modern fit to white and dark red. Modern shades of gray and beige bring relevance and quality to the hues, favorites for a mature market and exclusive vehicles.
“Sound of Silence” – Although the colors in this group are slightly muted and quiet, the calming colors featured in this group are determined to make their mark. The eco-friendly hybrids and energy-efficient technologies are thought provoking inspirations for the future. In this group, color is influenced by nature’s palette and the fast-growing world of technology. Sophisticated metallic, soft hues “Crescendo” and “Silent Auction” and earthy tones “Minor Gamut” and “Speechless” coexist in this group, and its dynamic make-up is a natural trend for global consideration.

“Touch of Blue” – This group focuses on the intense emotional attributes of color, inspired by the environment. Home accessories and interior design inspire some of the bright and rich blues in this group. Fashion inspires this group, as well, particularly in the pale blue and grayish undertones. The sense of familiarity and dramatic impulses of the light metallic and chromatic hues make this group popular among all vehicle segments, which includes contrasting sober shades like “Tactile Teal” and “Tickled Blue.” DuPont has tracked blue trends in all markets, including automotive to best new style spaces for the automotive segment. This demand is expected to grow as the global focus on blue increases.

 “Matter of Taste” – The exaggerated and unusual colors featured in this group offer a creative menu of colors that spotlight international flavors. Powerful shades of yellow, green, pink and purple bring excitement to a fearless group of colors. Caramel, tangerine and other savory colors are eye-catching and perfect for new vehicle launches, brand colors, concept vehicles, limited editions and the aftermarket. They put the individual taste of the driver at the forefront and include colors “Sweet Caramel” and “Berry Fusion.”

Click here to see charts showing most popular colors for 2011 by region/country