Bold or traditional. How cars choose their colours

Bold or traditional. How cars choose their colours

ŠKODA WORLD

ŠKODA cars offer customers a wide palette of body colour schemes. The range varies from model to model, but there are always conservative options and more eye-catching colour schemes.

13. 9. 2022

There are people who say that they can only tell cars apart by their colour. And why not? At ŠKODA, they’d certainly find something that appeals to them. The Czech carmaker can offer customers several dozen different body colours thanks to the Fleet Box individual paint scheme option. The standard portfolio already includes eye-catching and bold shades that stand out from the crowd.

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These are colour tones that ŠKODA often uses for new model launches and presentation, known as “hero” colours and designed to attract attention to the car. “They are meant to attract attention, and to attract customers to our website or to the dealership. The customer may choose one of the other colours, but the distinctive paint job helps us to introduce the car to them,” says Kateřina Vránová, head of the Color&Trim design department, which is responsible for the preparation of exterior colours.

“The development of each colour is a financially demanding process, of course, so a less popular colour is thus seemingly less profitable for the carmaker. But when it attracts attention, it does kind of invisible work,” explains Kateřina Vránová.

The ŠKODA KUSHAQ SUV was launched on the Indian market in the attractive Orange Honey paint job.

The list of colours introduced with recent new products shows just how appealing they are. For example, the ŠKODA KUSHAQ – an SUV for the Indian market – attracted attention with its attractive Orange Honey, while the related SLAVIA sedan was painted in Blue Crystal. Incidentally, these two colours (along with Tornado Red) are exclusive to the Indian market. European newcomers also sport distinctive colours, though: the new ŠKODA FABIA, for example, is often shown in Phoenix Orange, while the sporty MONTE CARLO variant is in Velvet Red. And the electric ENYAQ COUPÉ RS iV coupe comes in the vibrant shade of Green Mamba, which subsequently adorned the ŠKODA FABIA RS Rally2 at its premiere. It can also be ordered for the OCTAVIA RS.

Some of these colours will later appear on more models, but not usually across the entire model range. There’s a reason for that, too. “Bold colours tend to be more successful on smaller models bought by younger customers, while on larger cars customers tend to opt for more traditional shades,” explains Maria Kertzscher, a specialist in the development of body colours and paints.

Maria Kertzscher
bodywork paints specialist

Trends and technologies

According to both Marie and Kateřina, finding the right shades for car bodies is a constant process. “Inspiration is everywhere around us, and trends change and adapt,” says Kateřina Vránová. “When looking for suitable shades for our cars, we take into account a number of factors, from the colour and material trends in other industries, to whether these trends and their associated shades are suitable for cars at all and whether they suit the identity of the ŠKODA brand and its cars, to how technically demanding the use of a given colour can be,” explains Maria Kertzscher.

The ENYAQ COUPÉ RS iV was unveiled in head-turning Green Mamba.

Getting some colours into series production can be very challenging. For example, various matt shades or paints that are applied in multiple layers are currently in vogue. And giving a car this kind of “coat” is much more demanding in terms of production than conventional painting, which, as far as the colour itself is concerned, is essentially a one-step process. “We are looking for more flexibility in this area so that we can use more diverse and often unusual colours in practice under more favourable conditions,” says Maria Kertzscher.

The FABIA MONTE CARLO’s sporty spirit is accented by Red Velvet.

Interestingly, it’s not just bold colours which may only be in fashion for a few seasons that adapt to trends, but also traditional shades. Put simply, white doesn’t stay the same white over time, and the same goes for shades of grey, silver or even black. In practice, these too can be applied in a variety of ways. Just think of how much difference there can be between metallic black and matt black. ŠKODA tries to set the tone in the automotive industry in this respect, hence those distinctive colours and colours specific to certain markets or models.

The Czech carmaker does not, in principle, test the colours on its customers. It relies mainly on the feel, intuition and experience of its Color&Trim team. “Customers usually only see a new colour with the arrival of the model we launch it with. It’s a risk we take,” smiles Kateřina Vránová. Sometimes, however, the company does “feel out” certain colour trends and possibilities for further development in advance, for example when presenting design concepts. “Some colours take a little getting used to before people start to like them,” the head of the Color&Trim department explains.

Kateřina Vránová
head of Color&Trim

Taste changes over time and from market to market

The colours ŠKODA offers on specific models are not only determined by current trends and general customer tastes, but also by the specific features of individual markets. “Colours, and the way they are perceived, are influenced by a number of factors. These include the cultural and geographical environment. One factor we certainly don’t take lightly is the influence of the sun,” explains Maria Kertzscher.

The ŠKODA SLAVIA sedan is available on the Indian market in Blue Crystal.

In India, the Czech carmaker does not offer the traditional black, which is one of the most popular colours in Europe, for example. This is mainly for practical reasons, as a black car would simply get too hot in the local environment, and customers prefer white cars. And the sun gives some shades the chance to really stand out: this is again why ŠKODA offers three exclusive bright and bold colours in India.

The all-electric VISION 7S was launched in matt metallic Green Explorer. 

Developing a colour that will work well over the long term across the entire model range and different markets is a difficult job. It’s a lot more complicated than coming up with “fashionable” colours for specific models. The Color&Trim department works in collaboration with exterior designers to develop colours. From the very outset, the first sketches of the cars are fine-tuned to match specific shades. At the end of the process, the final colour is named so that the customer can choose it in the catalogue. “The final decision is up to the marketing department, but the inspiration comes from us, and we often end up using a name we’ve worked with internally in our department since the beginning of the colour’s development. Green Mamba or Grey Graphite are examples of these,” says Kateřina Vránová.