Paint-making rivals PPG Industries and DuPont Automotive agree that silver is the top vehicle color in the U.S. for the third-straight year. But what color will emerge to take its place is up for debate.

Silver is the most popular car color.

DuPont sees an increase in popularity in rich shades of medium-dark metallic gray. But growth of reds and other more vibrant colors hint at a major change in the automotive color palette down the road.

PPG says that while silver will “define the first decade of the new millennium,” it will become more complex – with blue and gold influences and coarse metallic flakes to add sparkle effects.

In 2007-2008, denim blues, silver-shaded and blue-violet reds, moss greens and brighter and lighter shades of yellow and orange will begin to gain popularity – “reflecting the optimism we have in our future,” says Lorene C. Boettcher, manager-global design and color marketing, for PPG’s automotive coatings division.

DuPont agrees: “Neutrals such as silver, white and black will always be major parts of the automotive color palette, but we can expect to see a wider range of color options in the near future,” says Robert Daily, DuPont Automotive color marketing manager.

Newer styles, especially cross/utility vehicles, can use new color treatment and brighter colors more effectively, he says.