December 4, 2023
automotive finishing, electric vehicles

The Tesla Model 3 in its base color: Pearl White Multi-Coat. Musk’s plan is to reduce carbon emissions — an effort that can be described as “green” — yet there is no green paint option for any of the Tesla models. Photo Credit: Tesla

The rationale behind the existence of Tesla can be discerned in the “Master Plan” that Elon Musk published in 2006, which says, in part: “the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution.

“Critical to making that happen is an electric car without compromises, which is why the Tesla Roadster is designed to beat a gasoline sports car like a Porsche or Ferrari in a head to head showdown.”

Musk’s focus was on sustainability, something that is encompassed by the category “environmental.”

And from the point of view of color, “environmental” is associated with green, as it is generally thought of in the context of trees and grass and the like.

But were you to go online to order a Tesla Model Y you’d discover that the standard (i.e., no up-charge) color is Pearl White Multi-Coat.

There are four optional colors. None are green.

Model 3? Ditto.

(The optional colors, in case you’re wondering, are Midnight Silver Metallic, Deep Blue Metallic, Solid Black and Red Multi-Coat.)

So here is the OEM that is most widely associated with electric vehicles, vehicles that are, comparatively speaking, “environmentally correct,” and you can’t get a green Tesla from the factory.

Does Anyone Like Green?

Curiously, while people and governments the world over are promoting EVs, the color green doesn’t resonate with vehicle customers.

The recent BASF global survey of the popularity of vehicle colors has green at 1% globally.

In North America, Japan, India, and EMEA it is at 2%. China and Asia-Pacific have it at 1%. And in South America, it doesn’t even make the list.

So we wondered whether there are special colors that automotive designers in the U.S. associate with electric vehicles.

automotive finishing, electric vehicles

The Acura Precision EV Concept exemplifies the brand’s design language for EVs (which it has coming in 2024) and is painted in the Acura signature color, Double Apex Blue.
Photo Credit: Acura

Making the Pivot

Gypsy Modina, Acura principal designer for color, materials and finish, says, “It seems the first wave of character colors for EVs were in green and blue color families as they are related to nature.”

(It is interesting that she notes the color blue, which is arguably more of an environmentally oriented color than green, given that about 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water.)

Modina expands, “There are differences in the EVs’ character colors by effect or texture. As an example, Acura’s signature blue — Double Apex Blue — will have more fluid liquid texture as we accelerate into the era of electrification.”

And this is along the lines of the thinking at Stellantis, as La Shirl Turner, vice president, Advanced Color and Materials, told us, “In the beginning, we looked at and offered a palette of colors that reflected an environmental or tech-forward feel; shades of blue and green as accents colors or exterior colors for alternative-fueled vehicles. But, as we moved forward, we found that our consumers don’t want to be restricted and want to have the variety that is offered across our vehicle lineup.”

automotive finishing, electric vehicles

The 2023 Wrangler Rubicon 4xe is a plug-in hybrid that offers 21 miles of all-electric range. Note that the tow hooks are blue. Blue is the signature color used to designate that it is an electrified vehicle.
Photo Credit: Jeep

Check the Cues

Turner points out that there are “style cues” on vehicle exteriors (and interiors) that signify electrification. For example, a 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe, a plug-in hybrid, is available in Baltic Grey, Bright White, Diamond Black, Ember, Hydro Blue, Midnight Sky, Rocky Mountain, Silver Zynith and Velvet Red — but the tow hooks are blue.

Gunda Matsumoto, deputy general manager, Nissan Global Color Design, puts the color signification in perspective: “There are no specific colors that say ‘EV.’ At Nissan, we are using the ‘Dawn Copper’ color inspired by the bright sunrise on the Nissan Ariya EV crossover and on the Sakura, the new EV kei car, to indicate a new generation of EVs at the company.”

Realize that Nissan was an early entrant into the EV space with the introduction of the 2011 LEAF, which was available in five colors (Blue Ocean, Brilliant Silver, Cayenne Red, Glacier Pearl and Super Black), so the pivot to an entirely new color focus is completely understandable.

automotive finishing, electric vehicles

Nissan has long been in the EV space. So its hero color for the all-new Ariya is Dawn Copper, as the company is rolling out with new electrified products.
Photo Credit: Nissan

Green Math

According to Kelley Blue Book figures, EVs are becoming increasingly popular among American consumers.

In 2022, the data firm found, there were 809,739 EVs sold in the U.S. — a 66% increase over the 488,397 sold in 2021.

Of the 809,739, 522,388 were Teslas. Tesla doesn’t offer green, so that leaves 287,351 vehicles. Going back to the 2% popularity of green, that means there is a possible 5,747 EVs painted green. And taking this a bit further, Kelley Blue Book includes 24 OEMs offering EVs, so with Tesla out, that’s 23.

If all 23 had an equal share of the 5,747 vehicles (they don’t), this would mean about 250 units per OEM. Not the sort of thing that any paint shop is likely to run.

Green. Quite a curious color.

Landscape Photo Credit: Nissan


  • An Interview with Brett Smith, CAR

    Brett Smith, director, technology, Center for Automotive Research, discusses his work in the propulsion side of the automotive industry and his thoughts about the future of electric vehicles. 

  • Henry Ford Is Still Right When It Comes to Color

    Who would have imagined that more than 100 years after his famous statement about any color as long as it’s black would still have relevance of a sort?

  • Disruptive Change: EVs and Finishing Opportunities

    As EVs continue to claim an increasingly larger share of the automotive market, what can finishers expect in terms of demand for finishes? Mark Schario of Columbia Chemical shares his insights into the kinds of opportunities EVs present for finishers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *