BASF: “The classic automotive colour wheel has had its day”

29 September 2023

As BASF releases its latest Automotive Color Trends report, its colour experts reveal why they believe the classic automotive colour wheel has had its day. The company’s latest colour forecasting collection, On Volude, combined human and non-human intelligence to create its colour sphere and considered the growing need for sustainability and functionality

Each year, designers for BASF’s Coatings division create a new collection of colours to inspire automotive designers around the globe. This year, non-human intelligence was a strong driver for the creation of the On Volude collection from Automotive Color Trends by BASF for 2023-2024.

When BASF’s designers looked at what their trend signals were telling them, they realised it’s time for a colour update, as the classic automotive colour wheel has had its day. Non-classic automotive hues emerged, propelling colours through a series of shifts reflecting a positive mood, with a focus on lighter shades and the exploration of new, expressive colour spaces.

On Volude provides exciting colours that also adopt an increasing focus on sustainability and functionality. As customers rely on the BASF collection to design automotive colours for their future models, one will see the new direction on the road or in the driveway in the next three to five model years.

EMEA – Exploring features beyond colour position

The palette for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) puts a highlight on bright beige colours (pictured above and in main image). Pastels also play an important role, introducing interesting non-automotive colour positions into automotive design.

As seen throughout the On Volude collection, colours in EMEA explore features far beyond colour position. They add sustainable, recycled raw materials, LiDAR and RADAR compatible concepts and haptic surfaces.

“Expressive colours reflect our will to communicate and speak up,” said Mark Gutjahr, Head of Automotive Color Design for EMEA. “When we bring non-automotive colours into the mix, we broaden that conversation even further into new and exciting colour spaces.”


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Asia Pacific – Realistic approaches to sustainable concepts

For On Volude, designers in Asia Pacific (APAC) explored and enriched the important colour spaces for whites and grays, while adventurous new colour spaces like shimmering green pastel and fluorescent red offer new expressions to meet the growing individuality of car buyers in APAC.

The collection shows realistic approaches to sustainable materials, sustainable processes and a diversity of sustainable concepts and effects.

“This palette can create amazing colour harmonies that are futuristic, modern and playful interactions between colour and effect combinations,” said Chiharu Matsuhara, Head of Automotive Color Design for APAC. “These sustainable concepts are reimagined in a more realistic way, boosting BASF’s leadership in sustainability.”


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Americas – colours evolving in their functionality

The Americas palette seeks optimism and divergence that celebrates possibilities in all modes of art and design. The colour spaces are evolving in their functionality while building in excitement.

The collection features softer hues, minimised textures and subtle moves that aspire toward future goals near and far. Colours in the Americas contribute to cooling effects in the vehicle with solar reflectance, work with sensor-based mobility concepts and explore more approaches with responsible raw material sourcing.

“In this year’s collection, red leaning pastels and mid-tones are replaced by restorative yellow and green effects suggesting renewal,” said Liz Hoffman, Head of Automotive Color Design for the Americas. “The connection complements both grounded colour spaces and otherworldly escapes. It shows evolving mindsets in automotive design.”

Colour expertise of BASF Coatings

Caption: The On Volude collection

Every year, the designers of BASF’s Coatings division study future trends which they use as foundation for the development of surface, texture and colour positions. They draw inspiration from industry, fashion, consumer products, nature, technology and more. This research is shared with BASF’s customers, the automotive designers, to drive future mass production plans.

On Volude contains functional concepts with realistic approaches. BASF’s designers set a global benchmark in colour by also focusing on technology and innovation, which are important drivers for the automotive industry. The target is to meet those functional requirements while still being visually and haptically exciting.

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