With the new Opel Astra and the Opel Mokka, the German carmaker has not only developed two extremely exciting new cars, but also created two startling new paint colours.
For such powerful design statements as the award-winning Mokka and the new Astra, Opel decided on vivid, eye-catching new colours: green for the Mokka and yellow for the Astra.
“Colours for automobiles must not only satisfy the customer, they must also match the car’s size and shape”, explains Nicole Heidt, Assistant Chief Designer, Colour and Trim. “A compact-class model like the Astra is best suited by sophisticated mica or metallic colours that are also highly popular among the customers in that market segment.”
Right at the start of the new Astra’s development, the Opel Marketing team informed Design that they wanted the sixth generation of the best-selling Astra to be available in yellow, which has a long-standing tradition as the colour of the brand.
As usual with an all-new colour, Nicole Heidt began the creation process with research into colour trends using professional tools. Also adding her own experience, she started to think about creating a new darker tone of yellow for the new Astra. Nicole then took her ideas into Design’s own paint shop where – as if creating a new meal – she personally designed the “recipe” for the new colour.
Using a 200-millilitre beaker and a few grams of various automotive refinishing paints from a leading supplier, she mixed the “ingredients” together until the result matched her idea.
Next, the designer prepared a “mood board” – a collage of images – and colour swatches to present the new colour to Design management and Marketing. Following their approval, Nicole then made samples for the supplier of the paint to the Rüsselsheim plant, whose final product must match the design idea and colour swatches as closely as possible for serial production.
Detailed process: Development of new colours can take up to four years
The process of developing a new colour for a new model can take up to four years, and the finalised new paint must be “ready to spray” by robots 12 months before the start of production. “The yellow we chose as the launch colour for the new Astra at the start of the process has proved bang on target”, says Nicole Heidt. “Such colours are trending strongly now.”
In the case of the Mokka, a smaller sports utility vehicle (SUV) with a younger customer profile than the new Astra’s, Opel sought a bold, sporty new colour. Nicole Heidt’s research showed that green tones were trending strongly. “Green is also the perfect colour for an emissions-free, battery electric vehicle such as the Mokka-e”, she adds.
“3-wet” paint process: Annual CO2 emissions cut by around 2,200 tonnes
Electrified vehicles such as the battery-electric Opel Mokka-e or the new Astra as plug-in hybrid are just two ways that the German car manufacturer contributes to sustainable mobility. Paintwork has its own role to play too. For example, the new Astra’s “Kult Yellow” is applied at the Rüsselsheim production plant where emissions from the paint shop have been significantly reduced. The facility currently uses the “3-wet” paint method, which removes one complete drying step from the process. Compared with conventional paint processes, this cuts annual CO2 emissions by around 2,200 tonnes while still providing high levels of protection from corrosion and stone chipping. In addition, annual water consumption is lowered by around 1,800 cubic metres.