Going green is about more than just electrification or the environment at BMW.
The colour green is also big in 2023 – in all its tints – as the latest fashion trend floods into showrooms.
There is even an Australian connection as one of the latest green hero colours on the BMW X1 is called Cape York.
“For me, the hottest colour this year is green. In all the different shades,” the head of BMW Colour and Material Design, Annette Baumeister, told CarExpert.
The long-time style leader at BMW Group was speaking from her office in Munich, outlining the future colour directions for the BMW and Mini brands.
She sees a lot of interest and upside in green machines throughout the car world, and not just in the sports cars which traditionally have taken on a splash of verdant green.
“We weren’t sure if we could make this shift. But we made it and that’s amazing,” she said.
“I’m not only talking about our company. I’m also seeing a lot of beautiful greens on other cars.
“It’s great to see these greens. And also greys that have a hint of green.”
The green drive shifted into gear at BMW two years ago and is set to continue beyond 2025, although Ms Baumeister admits the old-time favourites – white, red, black – still account for the majority of new-car sales.
“We said, a few years ago, ‘What’s the new white?’ Because we were so fed-up with white.
“So we said ‘Wouldn’t it be great if green comes back’. We tried it. This is what we have to do.”
Ms Baumeister knows the importance of car colours to potential buyers, and told CarExpert the trends in body paint usually follow the direction set by fashion and interior design.
“For trend colours, we have to really do a research that is very visionary. To make sure we are hitting the right point,” she said.
“Fashion is always usually the first in coming up with new trends. Then interior design.
“Cars are sometimes a bit delayed. We are looking at these areas to be inspired. If there is a trend, it always hits the car a bit later.”
She said the rise of green could reflect a search for something with more impact.
“The colour is influencing the character. Exterior colours are something you might notice when you’re driving somewhere. So they can point out something special,” she said.
But she says car companies also have to be careful they are not rushing down a dead-end street on colour.
“For that amount of money, you want to be sure it’s really a trend. It’s not like your shirt when you can buy a new shirt if you don’t like the colour,” she said.
BMW has a long history back to the 1970s with bold greens, usually for its go-fast M-car models, but Ms Baumeister said the new 21st century move is more subtle.
“It’s a lot technology-driven. It’s not just about colour,” she said.
“It’s not just beauty. It’s a lot about technology.”
Even so, the high-performance M colours are still a focus for green.
“We are thinking about the new M colours at the moment. We’ve all seen these very bright colours,” she said.
“Now it’s a bit more this sophistication within the paint. The effects we want to create. It’s going into this lighter direction.”
She does not see any end to the use of matte paint, or metallics, but said there is always a drive to add something extra.
“We have to come up with something feasible – it’s not easy. We want to make sure we do something of high quality that lasts forever. Then it gets into the industrialisation process,” she said.
Ms Baumeister said the increasing electrification was also triggering new thoughts on colour.
“Colours are influenced . . . by the story we want to tell,” she said.
“Maybe it is a different colour, and it depends on how the connection is, and how you link these. It doesn’t necessarily have to be blue or green.”
Further into the future, she said there will be a trend colour to follow green – but will not discuss it.
“We are not looking so much into developing new greens. Not for the exterior,” she said.
“What we are looking into is this ‘subtlessness’. As you notice on the (Vision Neue Klasse) show car, it’s a lot about the effect.”
For her personal company cars, after many years in black BMWs she has just switched to silver.
“I don’t have a favourite colour. I’m trying to pick colours which I think are modern. I want to make a modern statement,” she said.
And what about the ‘Cape York’ green?
“This colour is very special. It’s a big sage-y,” she said.
“This colour is amazing on the Mini, and now we put it on the 5 Series. It’s a totally different colour and the car looks totally different than it does in white and black.
“Sometimes it looks a bit more bluish and sometimes a bit more greenish. It brings out the best of the exterior.”