2023-01-19 | New Roads Magazine

Living Color

When it comes to choosing a color for your next vehicle, Jennifer Widrick is way ahead of you.

Shopping for a new car involves a lot of decisions. Of all of them, choosing the color, material, and finish is probably the most fun. Those details help make a vehicle yours. Whatever you’re thinking for your next Chevrolet, there’s a good chance Jennifer Widrick, director of Global Color, Material, and Finish at General Motors, has thought of it too.

Widrick has nearly two decades of experience working as a color and materials expert, first discovering a color and trim class while attending Detroit’s College for Creative Studies as a multidisciplinary artist. “All parts of my personality were firing, and it was really where I got to bring multiple materials together to tell stories, to create moods,” she says.

Chevy’s diverse lineup and customer base allow Widrick and her team to push the limits of exterior color options. Right now, Widrick says, low-gloss and solids are popular, while effect pigments — rich, highly chromatic, complex colors like blues, greens, oranges, and reds — are having a moment as well.  

“Chroma [bright, vibrant color] is on the rise, and people want those opportunities where instead of a black you might opt for a blue,” she says. “Certainly red indicates sport, and we’ve seen a lot of lighter colors come into play, so the market is quite open, and that’s what is exciting about Chevrolet.”

One growing trend is a pop of color on the roof to contrast with a more solid, neutral-colored vehicle body, or vice versa. “The Trailblazer is an excellent example of how the available two-tone roof opens up the flexibility to really have a lot of bold color,” Widrick says.  

The art of color-casting

To forecast the colors customers will want, Widrick and her team work with groups across the globe to identify design trends and stay on top of cultural and consumer attitudes. “Quick-to-market concepts can be driven by seasonal products like fashion, while for inspiration staples we might utilize architecture or interior design,” Widrick says. Most recently, the team has been inspired by shoe design and innovative tech products.

“Color and trim is the more emotional side of the business,” Widrick says. “When there’s something in the world that we see that makes us feel something and then we apply that to products — and it makes others feel that too — that’s a magical moment for us.”

Widrick’s team is typically color forecasting three to five years in advance, meaning they’re currently planning up to the 2027 and 2028 model years.  

OUR AIM IS ALWAYS TO HELP CUSTOMERS REACH THEIR ASPIRATIONAL SELVES, AND WE HAVE TO OFFER VARIETY TO BE SURE WE’RE OUTFITTING THEM WITH MEANINGFUL AND IMPACTFUL SELECTIONS.

JENNIFER WIDRICK

OUR AIM IS ALWAYS TO HELP CUSTOMERS REACH THEIR ASPIRATIONAL SELVES.

JENNIFER WIDRICK

VIBRANT VOCABULARY

Get to know the terms you might encounter when choosing the exterior color of your next vehicle.

TINTCOAT

A tint of color in the clearcoat used to enhance the basecoat. Tinted clears add depth and richness to show off the form of the exterior body.

IRIDESCENT

A shimmering or reflective effect in the appearance, created with combinations of exterior color pigments.

METALLIC

A paint appearance that is created through reflective pigment. The effect it creates is bright and with movement, used to highlight color on surface.

TRICOAT

A premium option that allows more metallic pigments to be added and involves painting a base, middle, and clearcoat to achieve depth of color and durability.

A common thread

Color and trim aren’t just icing on the cake at Chevy; they’re a critical component in the design of new vehicles. That’s why Widrick’s team is integrated from the beginning of the development process all the way through launch.

“Shape and material have this intrinsic connection. When the shape and material are considered upfront, that’s truly when you get really beautiful executions,” Widrick says. “There are scenarios where we’re pursuing material-led design, where there is a specific material or sustainability goal that we’d like to achieve, and we’re working with the design teams in the inception.”

One of Widrick’s goals is to seamlessly integrate sustainable materials while still meeting expectations around appearance, durability, and quality.

“It is a thread that’s in everything that we do,” she says. “And it’s a very exciting time in the industry for us. As we expand our business to EVs, we are also pushing material technology to deliver the most responsible executions. Along with that, we’re pushing and pulling the product and dressing it for feelings and moods that excite and inspire.

“Our aim is always to help customers reach their aspirational selves,” Widrick adds. “And we have to offer variety to be sure we’re outfitting them with meaningful and impactful selections.”

 

STORY: CASEY ROSENHAUS / PHOTOGRAPHY: JENNY RISHER 

A common thread

Color and trim aren’t just icing on the cake at Chevy; they’re a critical component in the design of new vehicles. That’s why Widrick’s team is integrated from the beginning of the development process all the way through launch.

“Shape and material have this intrinsic connection. When the shape and material are considered upfront, that’s truly when you get really beautiful executions,” Widrick says. “There are scenarios where we’re pursuing material-led design, where there is a specific material or sustainability goal that we’d like to achieve, and we’re working with the design teams in the inception.”

One of Widrick’s goals is to seamlessly integrate sustainable materials while still meeting expectations around appearance, durability, and quality.

“It is a thread that’s in everything that we do,” she says. “And it’s a very exciting time in the industry for us. As we expand our business to EVs, we are also pushing material technology to deliver the most responsible executions. Along with that, we’re pushing and pulling the product and dressing it for feelings and moods that excite and inspire.

“Our aim is always to help customers reach their aspirational selves,” Widrick adds. “And we have to offer variety to be sure we’re outfitting them with meaningful and impactful selections.”

STORY: CASEY ROSENHAUS / PHOTOGRAPHY: JENNY RISHER  

VIBRANT VOCABULARY

Get to know the terms you might encounter when choosing the exterior color of your next vehicle.

TINTCOAT

A tint of color in the clearcoat used to enhance the basecoat. Tinted clears add depth and richness to show off the form of the exterior body.

IRIDESCENT

A shimmering or reflective effect in the appearance, created with combinations of exterior color pigments.

METALLIC

A paint appearance that is created through reflective pigment. The effect it creates is bright and with movement, used to highlight color on surface.

TRICOAT

A premium option that allows more metallic pigments to be added and involves painting a base, middle, and clearcoat to achieve depth of color and durability.

STORY: CASEY ROSENHAUS / PHOTOGRAPHY: JENNY RISHER  

|

*The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.