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NONSHINING STARS

A matte finish is the new shiny, thanks in part because it shows off a car's design.

You can get a matte finish on your photos or your cell phone, so why not on your car?

Dull was the new shiny at last month's North American Auto Show in Detroit, where at least eight cars from General Motors Corp., Volkswagen AG's Lamborghini and Audi divisions, and others sported a gleam-free matte finish. It's a trend likely to show up more and more as drivers seek to differentiate their vehicles.

Matte finish has been appearing on show cars for several years, usually as an accent color to highlight a specific feature such as fender flares. But the all-over matte finish, a trend that began with customizers, is going mainstream. Karen Surcina, color technology and marketing manager of Dupont Automotive, said buyers should expect to see matte finishes on specialty or limited-run vehicles in the next two or three years.

"We expect that the matte trend would be more of a niche offering," she said.

It's easy to see why automakers are keen on the trend. Ed Welburn, GM's vice president for design, said nearly all automakers are experimenting with matte because it shows off the pure design of the car.

"It reduces the design to the very core elements because you're not influenced by the surroundings at all. You don't have the reflections of trees or buildings or the reflection of clouds or anything on the car because of the matte finish," Welburn said at the Detroit show, where GM's Hummer HX and Chevrolet Groove concepts had matte finish. "You see the pure surface development and nothing else."

Cars on the matte

A growing number of cars at last month's North American International Auto Show in Detroit were covered with a low-gloss matte finish over a variety of colors. It mostly was seen on concept vehicles, not production models, but it signals a matte trend that could arrive at more and more dealerships in the next few years. Here were some cars sporting matte finishes:

Audi R8 V-12 TDI, a concept sports car

Chevrolet Groove, a concept sub-compact car

Hummer HX, a concept short-bed truck

Jeep Renegade, a concept diesel-electric car

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, a supercar displayed in a dark brown matte that is now available

Lamborghini Murcielago, a supercar displayed in a robin's egg blue matte that is now available

Mazda Furai, a concept ethanol-capable sports car

Mercedes GLK Freeside, a concept small sport utility vehicle

Associated Press

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