High-gloss paint could become yesterday's dream as carmakers look for something new to draw customers to showrooms, as well as making a fresh move on the green front.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz are working on matt-finish paint projects, though they are taking different routes to the same result.
BMW hopes to have a matt finish with a coarse stealth-fighter look, but is struggling to seal the surface.
Benz has already developed a two-pack system available as a special order on its AMG performance cars.
The companies believe that going matt could accelerate development of cars that need less washing and body maintenance, as well as using fewer toxic chemicals when they are being painted. A low-gloss surface is also less likely to show minor dents and blemishes.
The BMW system is some way from production, though it was displayed last year at the press preview of the Z4 M coupe in Spain.
But Mercedes will sell a matt-finish AMG car to anyone with the desire and the cash.
“It is something that we offer. But we don't promote it, so we have not done many cars,” AMG-Mercedes marketing chief Mario Spitzner says.
“Paint and colour is the perfect opportunity to make some differentiation for our cars. It is something exclusive.”
The AMG-Mercedes system is called Alu-beam and it was announced earlier this year for the CL65 AMG coupe.
It is available only in silver, black and white.
“You could do it in all colours, but it does not always look good,” Spitzner says.
The actual process is complicated and secret.
“It is difficult to do. The clear coat is not actually clear,” he says.
“It took a while to develop the quality we needed. And especially for the spot repairs. When we offer it to our customers it has to be perfect. We have to go through a wide process to be on the safe side."
“Despite all our customisation, our customers still want Mercedes-Benz quality.”
Spitzner says he is not sure when the full Mercedes-Benz range will be available with the matt finish, but believes it has a strong future.