In his collaborative biography, My Life and Work, Henry Ford confirmed that he did in fact say what may be one of his most famous quotes, “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” And while Mr. Ford had plenty of radical ideas — apparently colour theory wasn’t among them. Things have come a long way though, since the original Model T, and that includes paint. Read on to find out more about Ford’s premium paint program, and what it means for your car buying experience.
A recent survey had 60% of potential buyers listing the colour of their new car as a “major factor” when shopping for a new vehicle. So then why are blacks and greys the most popular colour year after year? In fact, in 2015, three quarters of all cars sold worldwide were either black, grey, or white. Well, much like realtors will stage a house in neutral colours, dealerships will stage neutral colour cars to make for a more inviting and aesthetically pleasant looking lot. With that being said, there are a multitude of ways that manufacturers can make these neutral colours more exciting, and this usually happens in the paint application process. Ford’s premium paint program will make adjustments in the process — whether it be combining the primer and base coat, adding metallics, or creating a mirror finish, there are ways for Ford to make an otherwise dull colour (or shade) shine.
The manufacturing process plays a huge role in the colour of your Ford vehicle. Ford revolutionized this process when they introduced a technology in 2013 that used a system of high-resolution 3D imaging cameras that could take microscopic scans under special lighting, digitally identifying imperfects that would be imperceptible to the human eye. This made for an 82% drop in customer complaints about vehicle finishes within the first year of it being in effect. Ford’s premium paint program has also had an effect on the switch to aluminum bodies in the Ford F-150; during the finishing stages, the paint is essentially baked on, which also helps harden the aluminum alloys used in the truck. Also, in the manufacturing plants that run Ford’s premium paint program, personal hygiene items like deodorant, perfume, and lotions that can impact the paint finish are not allowed.
Now this doesn’t rule out the ability to purchase a vehicle with a more colourful paint job. Ford’s premium paint program offers a number of shades and hues across all of their vehicles and, some specific to particular models. For example, the Limited Edition Ford Focus RS and its shocking Nitrous Blue, or the dark and iconic Highland Green found exclusively on the 2019 Mustang Bullitt. PPG, one of the leading automotive paint suppliers, looks closely every year at colour trends in fashion, design, and architecture, and provides new palettes for manufacturers to pick from and adjust to their preference. However, these colours generally won’t see production for about three years. Ford’s premium paint program proudly pairs with BASF for many of their projects — and Team Ford partner Fusion Collision (Canadian Certified Collision Care Network and Platinum I-CAR certified shop) solely uses BASF paint to ensure a factory match any time you need new parts or touch ups on your vehicle, as well as to ensure that your warranty is not voided.
Again, while Henry Ford had a number of forward thinking ideas, it is unlikely he had ever considered the technological advances that we are grappling with on the road today. Recent research has brought to light the effects of paint colour and the sensors on autonomous vehicles. And Henry Ford’s favourite shade can actually cause trouble for autonomous vehicles, as darker colours absorb more light than lighter shades which is detrimental to most autonomous vehicles’ laser-based (LIDAR) sensors. Studies have found that LIDAR in the near-infrared spectrum of 700-1100 nanometers, used by automotive sensors, can have their signals cut in half by a black car compared to a similar white model. As well, plastic and composite parts like carbon fiber, or parts with metallic paints (often containing metal flakes), reflect poorly compared to more traditional materials like steel and aluminum. This wreaks havoc not only with autonomous vehicles, but can also affect LIDAR based safety systems like Ford’s BLIS. Ford’s premium paint program is working closely with automotive paint suppliers to create new pigments and resins in these darker coloured paints that will absorb less infrared light, to ensure that the roads stay as safe as possible. Further proof that paint is not solely an aesthetic marker, but rather one of functionality as well.
If you have any further questions about Ford’s premium paint program, or any Ford vehicles, Team Ford is always there to help find you the answer. Come visit us today to see some of our eye-catching vehicles in person — whether they are one of our neutral colours, or something a bit brighter.