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Future mobility and human needs inspire BASF 2018-19 Automotive Color Trends Collection

Collection “Keep it Real” connects the digitalized with the physical world Unique achromatic colors are the focal point of Automotive Color Trends Blue continues to gain prominence, vibrant colors aid autonomous technology


The need to stay authentic in a world where technology continues to blur the lines between reality and artificiality is the driving force behind the BASF’s 2018-19 Automotive Color Trends theme – “Keep it Real”.

As innovations such as artificial intelligence, autonomous driving and robotic industrialization take hold, the return to the human element – people’s needs and emotions – becomes increasingly important. The designers at BASF’s Coatings division translated these observations into a collection of 65 colors for automotive surfaces.

Dark colors, blue hues and complex effects represent the omnipresence of technology

Advancements in digitalization make technology become less visible and more intertwined with reality. Augmented reality applications and smart gadgets that simplify everyday life merge the real with the digital world. People seem to spend more time on online platforms, striving for perfection on social media, than in the real world. This omnipresence of technology is reflected in the Automotive Color Trends. Shades of gray and blue are the focal point of the collection. Achromatic colors are combined with complex effects that add colorful and natural accents and represent the merging of reality and the virtual world. Blue hues – mirroring the color of screens and digital light – appear as strong saturated colors. Natural textures and color effects symbolize the search for human qualities in a virtual world.

Shifting functions – new mobility concepts will influence color choices

Car sharing concepts, ride hailing services and autonomous driving shift a car’s function from a personally-owned object to a more public mode of transportation. For cars that are designed for sharing, color pallets with a universal appeal will play a significant role. The trend collection shows how elaborate textures and intricate effects can make each color truly unique.

In addition, BASF addresses future mobility with the development of functional colors. Select colors of the collection feature a coatings system that mitigates heat buildup on the vehicle surface. Further innovations include colors with state-of-the-art functionality, increasing reflectivity for enhanced LiDAR detectability, without compromising their aesthetic appeal.

North America – Expanding color horizons

The dismantling of public heroes make room for new idols. Flaws are accepted as part of being human and diversity is celebrated. A new enthusiasm for science and especially space travel draws attention to far away worlds. The connection of the real and virtual world as well as the relationship of earth and space is captured in the BASF’s key color, Atomium Sky, predicted to influence 2022 vehicle models in North America. This is the second consecutive year that BASF selected a blue as its key color, demonstrating its growing prominence in this region. Atomium Sky is a deeply saturated blue with a medium coarseness that transitions to a softer, semi-opaque hue, exuding playfulness while demonstrating futuristic and forward-thinking.

“This is one of the most diverse color collections BASF has ever introduced,” said Paul Czornij, head of design, BASF North America Coatings, Color and Design. “There’s a juxtaposition between achromatic and strong colors. Grays and pastels reflect the urban look with essential, neutral spaces, whereas bright, chromatic colors that are optimistic, luxurious and playful point to advances in technology.”

The diversity is driven by economic and purchasing trends, and the evolving mobility landscape. Highlights of the North America colors include:

  • Metal’s Mettle: a medium to dark grey with a coarseness and a dynamic sparkle demonstrates the cool rawness and minimalism of urbanism.
  • Centripetal Blue: a blue-black color with a medium coarse sparkle enhances detectability and performance for autonomous vehicles.
  • Kleur: a bright, vibrant red inspires a feeling of connectedness with a high saturation that makes it more visible, an important characteristic for self-driving vehicles.

“Self-driving technology was a crucial component of this year’s conversation, both in terms of the psychology of public perception and acceptance of future mobility, and the functionality of the coating,” said Czornij. “Some of the colors include our innovative, industry-leading pigmentation to increase reflectivity for LiDAR equipment, which is one of the ways self-driving cars can detect objects in their surroundings.”

Asia Pacific – Quest for quality in the real life

People in the Asia Pacific region have an ambivalent relationship with technology. They freely give their personal data to companies that make everyday life more convenient and embrace emotional bonds to machines with artificial intelligence. At the same time a desire for human and real-life contacts and experiences reshapes public spaces in the cities. Gray Ambivalence, a glaring metallic gray, stands for the integration of high performance technology in everyday life. It is balanced by a solid flop that connects to the real world.

EMEA – Life in urban spaces

In the EMEA region the use of public space is changing, with real places taking on new value. They invite people to take a break from the digital world. Gray nuances build on this trend. With their associations with concrete, they stand for urbanity and – combined with haptic effects – allude to the significance of what can be experienced for real. Extraordinary effects symbolize the desire for attention. The metallic anthracite “The Urbanist” stands for the urban, globally networked cosmopolite. At the same time, it represents the blending of humans and technology.

South America – Transformation of classic color spaces

The colors for South America offer a visual connection to the diversity of the region. Two of the most popular color spaces in the automotive market – black and white – are transformed into elegant, eclectic coatings for cars. Coriolis Force, the region’s key color, reflects on care and respect of traditional crafts and knowledge handed down over generations. The dark hue exudes a luxurious effect, which is created by using a reddish gold flake. Under a strong light source, it creates a genuine aesthetic for the region.

Color expertise of Coatings Division

The designers of BASF’s Coatings division observe technological and societal changes and use them as inspiration and starting point for intensive research into future trends. Every year they translate their findings and predictions into a collection of 65 new colors that reflect on global trends and developments within the regions of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Asia Pacific (AP) and North America (NA).

For further information on the 2018-19 Automotive Color Trends, please click the following link:

About BASF’s Coatings division

The Coatings division of BASF is a global expert in the development, production and marketing of innovative and sustainable automotive OEM and refinish coatings, decorative paints as well as applied surface treatments for metal, plastic and glass substrates in a wide range of industries. The portfolio is completed by the “Innovation Beyond Paint” program which aims at developing new markets and businesses. We create advanced performance solutions and drive performance, design and new applications to meet our partners’ needs all over the world. BASF shares skills, knowledge and resources of interdisciplinary and global teams for the benefit of customers by operating a collaborative network of sites in Europe, North America, South America and Asia Pacific. In 2017, the Coatings division achieved global sales of about €3.97 billion.

Solutions beyond your imagination – Coatings by BASF. For more information about the Coatings division of BASF and its products, visit

About BASF

BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has more than 18,200 employees in North America, and had sales of $17.9 billion in 2017. For more information about BASF’s North American operations, visit

At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. The more than 115,000 employees in the BASF Group work on contributing to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into five segments: Chemicals, Performance Products, Functional Materials & Solutions, Agricultural Solutions and Oil & Gas. BASF generated sales of €64.5 billion in 2017. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (BAS). Further information at

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