Automobile designers can expect car buyers of the future to abandon the conservative, comforting colours of the past few years in favour of more lively, exuberant and exotic colours. That’s the prediction of colour experts at BASF, a leading maker of automotive coatings. At its recent annual Colour Trends exhibits and meetings, BASF’s colour experts unveiled to major automotive designers the findings of their analysis regarding trends in automotive colour preferences. According to the company’s forecast, the hot colours coming down the road indicate car buyers’ desire for more festive and exciting colours, as opposed to the current, traditional silvers, grays and whites. "Blues will continue to grow in popularity, but will be richer and more jewel-like," said Jon Hall, Manager of Colour Development for BASF’s Automotive Coatings business in North America. "Reds, which have bottomed out in popularity, will enjoy a modest revival, but in bluer and deeper shades. Today’s popular browns will shift toward orange hues and shades. We also foresee the emergence of dark, mysterious coloursdark blues, reds, coppers and grays." Hall said BASF’s forecast also strongly suggests the coming demand for sparkle, glitter and more metallic coatings, which is driving the company’s research and development efforts. "Innovative colours depend on innovative coatings technology," said Hall. "So, we’re working now on two automotive coatings for the future based on what we see as emerging colour trends." The first, says Hall, is a powder coating that creates a brilliant metallic effect previously attainable only with more expensive tri-coat liquid systems. The benefit to carmakers will be the ability to match the rich appearance and durability of liquid finishes, and to combine it with the environmental benefits of powder coatings, which unlike liquid coatings release almost no volatile organic compounds and do not generate waste sludge. The second technology BASF featured at its Colour Trends exhibit involves innovative arrangements of microscopic aluminum flakes to produce premium, never-before-seen "holographic" colours. These elegant coatings reflect subtle rainbow-like highlights, create the illusion of three-dimensional depth, and will appeal directly to car buyers’ desire for more glitz. "The emerging trend seems to be a celebration of things new a visual expression of the language of the Internet, wireless connectivity, software, and dazzling technologies," said Hall. "As a result, we predict that the cars on today’s drawing boards will debut in new colours that are richer and more exotic than what we see on the road today. Even traditional whites and silvers will be enlivened with more sparkle and glitter." Hall said BASF develops its forecasts based on a combination of sales data, global research on trends and consumer preferences in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and a depth of industry background and knowledge. According to BASF’s statistics, the most popular colours for 2003 model year passenger cars and light trucks in North America were: silver, 20 percent; white, 15 percent; black, 15 percent; blue, 11 percent; gray, 11 percent; red, 11 percent; beige, 8 percent; green, 5 percent; yellow/gold, 3 percent; orange, 1 percent.