The rise of autonomous technology in the automotive business is even affecting car color.
Axalta Coating Systems’ newest color, a “pearlescent white” know as StarLite, is more easily detectable by lidar systems, the units on self-driving cars that pulse lasers to measure distances.
“We think it will be a long-lasting trend, and also a color of the future,” said Nancy Lockhart, Axalta Global Color Marketing manager.
Axalta tracks trends in the automotive industry, including auto color sales, as well as trends in design and fashion to choose its annual color of the year, but this year technology was an undeniable underlying theme.
“While StarLite may not apply to all autonomous detection systems, Axalta believes considering these shades will become increasingly important to automakers,” Lockhart said in a statement Thursday naming StarLite Axalta’s Color of the Year.
The reflective hue is applied with Axalta’s tri-coat process, and is designed with synthetic pearl flakes. The premium color, which is more expensive to produce, was originally made for luxury vehicles, but the company’s research found that these reflective colors are becoming more prominent on a wider array of vehicle segments.
White also topped Axalta’s 2017 Global Automotive Color Popularity Report for the seventh consecutive year. Nearly 40 percent of car buyers worldwide rolled off dealer lots in white whips in 2017, an increase of two percentage points from 2016, Axalta said. The popularity of pearlescent whites, like StarLite, grew by 4 percent in 2017.
“From a popularity perspective, there will never be a better year to highlight StarLite as an automotive pacesetter,” Lockhart said in the statement. “While we see white cars everywhere, this rise in pearl popularity underscores StarLite’s role as a modern, luxury color.”
The annual Color of the Year is supposed to act as an indicator for consumers as they make car-buying decisions.
“For the general consumer, there are many colors of the year out there, but none of them focus on automotive color,” Lockhart said. “Auto color is very different than paint color for a living room. It’s a big, long-term decision, and we want to aid in that.”
The automotive coatings company will reveal StarLite to the public in a video at the EyesOn Design awards at the North American International Auto Show. Axalta, the presenting sponsor of the NAIAS Charity Preview, will again roll out its newest color at the black tie event later this month. Its a tradition that started in 2015 with Radiant Red.