Do you drive a red car? If you live in the United States, you’re more likely to live in the Midwest than you are to live on the coast. If you drive a green car, you probably live in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C, or Pittsburgh. Customers in Miami, on the other hand, eschew neutral earth tones for more vibrant colors like orange and gold. For an automaker such as Ford, tracking these color preferences is a full time job; not only do you have to know what buyers want today, you need to anticipate what they’re going to want in a few years. You also need to think globally; just as states or regions of the United States have color preferences, so do nations in the EU. If you want to sell a sedan in France or Italy, you’d better offer it in an antique white. Belgians, on the other hand, much prefer gray.
If there’s good news to be had in color product planning, it’s that the classics never really go out of style. Colors like black, silver, white and gray represent some sixty percent of production worldwide, so Ford goes to extra efforts to “refresh” these colors whenever possible. In Europe, tri-coat pearl technology, which gives a radiant effect to gray-scale colors, is very popular at the moment. In the United States, tinted clear coats are the latest trend because they give a deep, liquid effect to the paint.
Automobile colors also mirror trends in fashion; just as red used to be popular for both cars and clothing, it’s now on the wane. White is rising in popularity, as are dark grays and blues, and black continues to go with everything in both cars and clothing. To ensure that they’re capturing the trends customers expect, when they expect them, Ford works closely with suppliers such as Du Pont, who also spends a significant amount of time and effort studying color preferences. What does it all mean? You may not be able to order a 2024 Ford Taurus in “Radiant Tangerine”, but chances are better than average it’ll still come in white, black and silver.