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Putting the colour on Scania Technical Centre

6 OCTOBER 2017

It’s no coincidence that the interior and exterior of a truck look a certain way. Christina Isomaa leads Colour and Trim – the team that works on materials, colours, patterns and textures.

After many years as Scania’s colour expert, she explains here about the importance of harmony.

“Regardless of what choice the customer makes in terms of colour, seat covering and other trim details on the wheel and instrument panel, you should still sense a certain matched balance and calm. Everything fits together.”

It is when there is harmony between all the components that you get a sense of quality. Customers can always get a sense of quality, but can’t always express exactly what that feeling is based on. If, for instance, there were some deviation in the colour or sheen, it may be difficult for the driver to explain what it is that isn’t right. That is why the work of Christina and her colleagues is so important.

“In simple terms, you can say that colour is the first thing that the brain registers, then the shape. We spend a lot of time on optimising the overall impression.”

Creating a sense of wellbeing

Because a truck is often a combination of a workplace and a home, and the driver uses it differently from the way you would a car, it’s important to create a sense of wellbeing.

It’s not just the colours that have changed over the years, but the entire organisation – from being a few people with limited resources to today having completely different tools and possibilities for design creation. For instance, at Scania Technical Centre in Södertälje there is a hall in which various exteriors can be verified, an equivalent facility for interiors, and a VR studio in which it is easy to see the impacts of different choices in various cabs.

“It’s incredibly complex. Our choices involve not only taking into account what the customer sees and feels, but also working together with the purchasing organisation to find solutions that are financially viable.”

The choice of exteriors is made in close cooperation with the paint shop in Oskarshamn and Meppel. The process from start to finish normally takes two years and commences with a need from Scania’s market side. Christina and her team then produce a proposal to fulfil requirements and requests from various places at Scania.

Wife’s favourite colour

The colours then. Can customers choose any colour they like? Yes, you can choose your wife’s favourite colour for your truck, but in those circumstances the customer is responsible for the cost. Scania’s own, product-assured cab colours are gathered together into two different palettes: “Scania Recommended”, which consists of 15 colours, the majority classic Scania shades, and “Scania Selected”, a scale of 120 colours.

“Previously there were more than 1,000 different exterior colours that the paint shop needed to handle, but this proved to be unsustainable in the long run. We then decided together to create colour palettes that both increased the paint quality while providing support for customers when purchasing a Scania truck. Today customers can also use Scania’s new configurator, where they can build and evaluate on a computer their vehicle in its chosen colour at an early stage.”

The colour palette has also been updated in conjunction with the launch of the new generation of trucks in order to indicate that something new has happened.

“Scania’s products are in themselves iconic. We are confident that we deliver great vehicles and the launch colours have been produced to support the product identity. You can’t miss that this is a new Scania, and we don’t need to spice it up with neon in order to be seen.”

Works over time

Christina realises that not everyone likes everything you do, but because the colours need to last for such a long time, she feels that it is important to work out what impressions the colours give. When it comes to the interior, it also needs to be a restful colour scale that works over time and which you do not tire of.

“Creative customers who want something else do it anyway. I have seen many bespoke customer solutions such as fringed curtains, white painted instrument panels and engine tunnels with motifs painted on.”

The most popular colour?

It’s not really possible to determine the most popular exterior colour. If a customer from a specific transport company orders a large number of new trucks in their company colour, that colour will top the list, without actually being the trendiest choice.

What Christina likes best about her work is that while keeping both feet on the ground, she still gets to make choices that still feel unique and premium to customers.

“It’s a global product, and our solutions need to function within the modular system while also transmitting Scania’s product identity.”