What future for automotive paints?
In a modern world of constant and exponential progress, the future of car paint will surprise us in all its aspects, especially the exterior finish.
We are at the dawn of a new page turning :
While waiting for driverless cars, all-electrics, new batteries or hydrogen fuel cells, innovative automotive paints will take an important part in the progress of tomorrow’s cars, with ambitious and futuristic designs and new materials in the way of concept cars.
What will be the car paints and finishes in 2050?
Perhaps we don’t realize how far we’ve come in this area. Let’s just compare the automotive paints of the 80’s and 90’s with those of the new vehicles fresh off the line :
The paints show a very rich range of hues, great depth and gloss, and high durability and gloss of the topcoat.
It’s unlikely that progress will stop in 2020 and it makes sense that car paints will become more and more exceptional, to the point that it would be hard for us to imagine them.
If someone had told us 20 years ago what car paint would be, we would have laughed ! But hey, let’s give it a try anyway !
What will the car paint of the future be made of ?
It will be more ecological, contain 0% solvents and will be more resistant ! Since the 2000s, we have already made great progress in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions with the European Directive 2004/42/EC.
With the rapid development of nanotechnologies, it is reasonable to believe that future car paints will use nanoparticles, for example, as is already the case with carbon nanotubes :
- to capture the light without letting it out, to create a blacker than black!
- By creating ultra-hard and totally scratch-proof body varnishes. This is already the case with ceramic topcoats and self-healing body topcoats.
- To conduct electricity through the paint. So we can imagine a car paint color that changes at the touch of a button!
- Non-wettable, non-staining body paints.
Other paints (they already exist!) will be able to change colors and show up to 6 colors depending on the angle of view, these are the chameleon or holographic paints, or change color with temperature (thermochromic)!
The three companies that are the most advanced in the field of special effect paints are StardustColors, Alsa and DNA paints.
What will be the trends in car paints?
To do this, let’s look at the interaction of 3 trends that are already emerging, to build a coherent picture of the future of this field in the next 50 years :
1 – The end of paint repair with self-driving cars ?
The future of body painters and car repair seems very dark :
First of all, because electric cars no longer have the countless mechanical parts and systems of combustion engine cars, so they no longer need repair.
But above all, because future self-driving cars, such as the pioneering Tesla S, Google’s Waymo, or General Motors’ Cruise, are able to anticipate accidents.
While 94% of road accidents are caused by human error, some self-driving models have driven more than a billion kilometers for only 3 accidents.
To say that humans drive less well is an understatement…
When you see the paints of the 80’s and 90’s that were fading and whose topcoat was peeling off, this will be a distant memory, with paint finishes that are almost indestructible thanks to the progress made by paint manufacturers.
This is why the body painters of the future will all be out of work and the paints on our cars will no longer need repair.
This means that car manufacturers could afford much more beautiful and expensive paints for their cars right from the design stage.
2 – Between depersonalization and personalization of paints
The trend is already underway with the explosion of on-demand vehicles (Uber), rental between individuals, sharing (Blablacar).
Knowing that we use a car 5% of the time and that the rest of the time, it is parked, we can imagine that our future cars without driver will go for a ride, to transport other passengers, when we are at the office…
We are therefore heading towards a “depersonalization of the personal vehicle”.
However, in the future, with the development and invention of public transport and shared transport, some people will want to keep a “personal” car, which could be a luxury object, reserved for the very rich, completely personalized, with sensational effect paints.
3- The third trend for the future of car paint is futuristic design.
In the past, the main purpose of paint was to protect the bodywork from corrosion.
Today, it is not only a protection, but also an important a esthetic asset.
It is reasonable to think that in the future… the paints will be breathtaking.
1st detail :
It was said that some very expensive chameleon paints (5000USD per kg), used in the security of banknotes for example, would never be commercially viable for painting vehicles!
Today, we are at less than 250$ per kg!
This drop in the price of the technology is the key to the mass marketing of special effect paints, such as opalescent paints.
With the competition for the top of the line cars. To stand out, luxury paints can be used.
What are the other manufacturers doing?
They start to make different vehicles and rely on design to accompany the inevitable technological transition.
And their sales have been widening the gap since 2017 with conventional cars.
In Germany, electric models have seen a sales growth of +30%, while the benchmark brands that like Mercedes or BMW have seen a progression of -13 to 3%.
These electric vehicles will be more likely to be customizable and attractive, as they are produced in smaller industrial scales.
The future of automotive coatings is very promising thanks to chemical innovations. It will accompany the inevitable technological leap forward represented by the revolution of electric cars, self-driving cars and the disappearance of the personal car as we know it.
We suggest you continue this reading by browsing this Wikipedia article on car paints.