Blue cars are prettier now. Why?
September 9, 2019 6:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the US, in a small mid-East Coast city. This year -- the past few months, really -- I keep noticing all these gorgeous blue cars. All these gorgeous shades of blue that I've literally never seen on a car before in my entire life. MeFi, did our blue paint technology suddenly level up? How did this happen now and not before? And can somebody do the same for green?
posted by pelvicsorcery to Technology (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
This article predicts what you're seeing - that blue is a popular car colour currently. I don't think it's about paint tech, just that blue is trendy right now so manufacturers are offering more than a single shade:
"The automotive industry [has to] pick their colors two to three years before they're actually in the market," Harrington said, adding that their future-trend research jibes with BASF's. "Blue is a [growing] trend we've seen from color popularity data," she said.
According to BASF, this penchant for blue hues is also associated with the public's proclivity for digital light emanating from the ubiquitous mobile device.
"BASF predicts car color trends for 2018 to 2019 based on human behavior"

For what it's worth I see increasingly more new cars in silver/metallic grey over here (UK), and I recall a few years back hearing that silver cars had a higher resale value due to its popularity (which may have had a feedback effect meaning more people chose silver).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:48 AM on September 9, 2019


Paint technology definitely hasn't changed (at least not to allow these colors), but tastes have, and, more likely, car companies' willingness to offer some interesting colors. I've been seeing a bunch of new colors (a few brands (VW and GM) have a reddish orange, and I've also been seeing a blue-ish grey (Subaru)), and maybe people are finally tiring of the white/black/silver/grey choices that have dominated car sales in the last decade.
posted by jonathanhughes at 6:51 AM on September 9, 2019 [4 favorites]


Data point: I just bought a car, and I got blue because I was tired of silver (I'd been leasing a silver car) and because I thought it would look less like every single car on the road. Then I noticed that there are an awful lot of blue cars in my office parking lot - and everywhere, really.
But if green had been an option for the car I wanted, I would have gotten green.
posted by FencingGal at 7:09 AM on September 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


The current popularity of fancy blue tones - I would blame that on halo cars from Lexus and Volvo. Lexus made a bit of a stir with it's "Structural Blue" paint it showed off in 2016 at the Geneva auto show. Lexus claimed took 15 years to develop, which is some high order BS, but it is just amazing. And shows that there remains serious work in paint composition. Consider this Lexus blue doesn't actually contain anything blue in it, it relies entirely on physics to produce the appearance of blue. But it was a halo project and I think has driven interest in/highlighted some of the other blues.

The fancy fast Volvo division is Polestar, which is a beloved car of the online nerd and has a signature blue tone. Hard yes on the color from me.

It's pretty common for these sorts of trends to move from niche to mass - much like how two tone paint jobs are becoming more widespread, which can also be great.
posted by zenon at 7:35 AM on September 9, 2019 [14 favorites]


Apparently silver cars depreciate less than cars of more distinct color. Upon learning this, some people buy more silver cars, with black and white generally filling out the top three (with some varying trends by segment). Since more than half of the new cars sold are grayscale, that leaves a smaller set of cars (by sales volume) that might have more distinct color. Blue seems to be the fourth most popular color, the best of the rest as it were. Within that smaller set of cars too much distinctiveness (say, a color that's just a bit too blue) will hurt resale value. For the most part the non-grayscale colors will still trend towards safety, and thus most of the blues we've been seeing have names like "midnight navy" or whatever. But car manufacturers work with paint and color consultants to try to identify trends and will try to get out in front of them with a few new colors every year. Sometimes it catches on, and sometimes it doesn't.
posted by fedward at 7:39 AM on September 9, 2019


I just noticed this after I started working in New York. Rarely saw such pretty, bright blue cars in Virginia, don't really see them in Ontario, but those shiny cerulean blue cars are all over western NY. I would suspect that it's both trendy (depending on the region) and also perhaps a more affordable paint color than it once was.
posted by nightrecordings at 7:42 AM on September 9, 2019


If you’re interested in green, check out a new John Deere. Their green is the result of a patented mixing and painting process and is fucking amazing.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:55 AM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


White and silver are definitely on their way out in Eastern Europe. There have been some gorgeous browns, oranges and beiges for a while now, and in the last two years blue exploded, plus the usual smattering of red (because I refuse to buy a non red car). In muddier areas, white means you live at the car wash...
posted by I claim sanctuary at 8:00 AM on September 9, 2019


I bought a new Honda Accord last summer and while the car came in blue, I never saw one in inventory at any dealer within 90 minutes of me. Red was also very rare. I ended up with a dark gray that I think looks nice. I did see a yellowish-green Civic 2-door this morning that I thought looked nice and appropriate for that type of car.

The blue Volvo listed above is beautiful.
posted by mmascolino at 8:28 AM on September 9, 2019


Subaru launched their "Hyper Blue" color a few years ago, which is a distinctive light blue that veers towards cyan.

It also seems that a disproportionate number of Nissan Leafs (Leaves?) are blue, particularly the older ones, as I think Blue Ocean was the color in their original marketing.
posted by w0mbat at 9:11 AM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


YInMn Blue was discovered 10 years ago and has been available commercially for the past 2 years. Given its expense it's unlikely that it's being used on cars. But yeah, blue paint technology has improved.
posted by zinon at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2019


zenon answer is good, it's paint technology & trends. If you want to look at the insane end of the competing car color technology:
Ford GT Mystichrome
This, occcasionally long & dudefull, about why this car color is illegal (baity much?):
Donut Media Ford GT Mystichrome video

I had read somewhere (early internet?!) that white and silver became popular car colors in the early 90's for 2 reasons: the silver paint technology had gotten way better (it used to oxidate very badly) and white hides dents and dings better. There was some legislation that allowed rental car companies to sell their low mileage fleet cars, which were overwhelmingly white; and auto makers started selling budget cars in white as well.

I'm just happy to see something other than white, black, grey spectrum, and red. Go blue green orange brown magenta purple whatever!
posted by twentyfeetof tacos at 9:54 AM on September 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


Another thing that may be playing into this, though not limited to a specific color: I think the clear-coat layer technology has improved of late, allowing use of some more vibrant pigments that are susceptible to UV damage/fading.
posted by coppertop at 9:58 AM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


I have many friends who've worked at Ford and GMC for years, and I've learned from them how very intricate the color selections for every new model is... So much depends upon geography, age demographic, etc. For example, here in Michigan darker colors show road salt and general schmutz during the winter months. Not every car buyer considers this, but it does tend to "trend" in their statistics.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:19 PM on September 9, 2019


I've seen a lot of very nice dark, matte reds lately. I like it. Does look like a new technology even if it probably isn't.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:50 PM on September 9, 2019


We just got a blue car last week and I was just so happy there was an option other than sparkly grey or sparkly black that didn't require a special order! I heartily welcome our colorful-car overlords. It feels like for the last decade if you wanted a car in a pretty color you had to get one of them little Fiats or get it made special.
posted by potrzebie at 11:10 PM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


twentyfeetof tacos - that is amazing GT50.

I realize I only blamed halo cars from Lexus and Volvo - there are other examples, like this bonkers Audi R8 which made the rounds representing the German firm at several auto shows. And that color was available on their regular cars. For like $3 large, so maybe not so regular. Also irregular: the Bugattis, which have an actual Bugatti Blue, but they go out and make "Chrome Blue" which looks, well, out of place on an actual street. Porsche was early to the blue party with a nice 'Miami blue' and have been promoting on the insta their Python Green Chromaflair which only costs about 100 000 extra ... so maybe green is next.

My current fav though is Yas Marina Blue M3 which does the whole crayon color muscle car, which is just the best.
posted by zenon at 10:36 AM on September 10, 2019


I've noticed, aside from colours, that there's a very recent trend for flat colours without the metallic in them with an intensely glossy clear coat. Around here there are a couple of blues in that range, though the default seems to be a grey/cappuccino hybrid. Ask yourself if you're seeing blues or just something out of the ordinary for being super glossy and less sparkly than usual.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 11:29 PM on September 10, 2019


I think it's the early 90s coming around again. I live in Northern Ontario, and as a kid at that time, it seemed like all the cars were either teal or white (how I miss thee, my 1993 Mazda 323!). I agree, the paint is far more enigmatic now though... very fun!
posted by NorthernAutumn at 8:21 AM on September 13, 2019


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