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Detroit Auto Show: 'Sahara' bronze tapped as automotive color of the year

Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

DETROIT -- If you're a fashion-forward car shopper, get ready to accessorize around bronze, coppery colors as automakers move away from the white, black silver and grey shades that have dominated the market.

Sahara is hot, and I don't mean climate change. It's the name of the 2019 automotive color of the year, developed by Axalta, the largest supplier of automotive paint.

New technologies and changing tastes in vehicles influenced the choice, along with a keen eye to trends in fashion and design, Nancy Lockhart, Axalta's global color marketing manager. Axalta was DuPont's paint group before being spun off in 2013.

"Sahara works on all types of vehicles," Lockhart said recently at Axalta's automotive headquarters. "It looks good on large SUVs and trucks -- vehicles as big as a Chevy Suburban or Ford F-150 -- but also on a little Fiat."

Not every color does. Bright colors like pink and some greens may look fine on a compact or sporty car, but could be overpowering on larger vehicles.

Sahara is a proprietary color Axalta, created to showcase the type of colors it sees trending upward.

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It's unlikely any automaker will ever use Sahara's exact shade. The color serves more as a conversation starter when Axalta works with designers and takes color samples to automakers around the world.

The company will make Sahara available to aftermarket paint shops, though. The color of the year has become a big deal in the five years since Axalta announced the first one. Some customers will call local paint shops as soon as the color is announced, asking to have it applied to their vehicle.

"It's a warm and sandy color that's timeless, with echoes of gold," Lockhart said. "It's reminiscent of orange without being orange.

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