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Experimental Constellation Colors; Technology makes vehicles visible at night

    SOUTHFIELD, Mich.--Nov. 9, 2001--BASF today announced the introduction of experimental Constellation Colors(TM) for automotive coatings, which utilize various technical approaches to make colors on vehicles visible at night.

    Resulting from BASF coatings research, these entirely new effects and concepts in color appeal to aesthetic and safety interests. BASF's Constellation Colors were first seen in June on the Saleen S7R racecar entered in 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.

    "Making colors visible at night introduces a whole new thinking," said Jon Hall, Manager of Color Development for BASF's Automotive OEM Coatings Regional Business Unit. "Aesthetically, these new materials make the normal, beautiful colors visible on cars at night as they are during the day. And from a safety standpoint, this capability enables cars and trucks to be more readily seen when it's dark."

    The Saleen S7R racecar roaring around the Le Mans track incorporated two technology concepts that enable Constellation Colors to achieve the desired effect. One, which was seen on the BASF logos that appeared on the racecar, is a coating system that uses a "retroreflective pigment" that illuminates automobiles when exposed to a light source. This is a similar technology to what is commonly seen in reflective clothing, street signs and safety markers.

    "Through this approach, the effect of seeing color at night is achieved through combining the pigment's refractive index with a special reflective coating on one side of the pigment," explained Hall. "When light hits this coating, such as from headlights from another automobile, it appears to light up or sparkle."

    Another approach in the Constellation Colors palette, seen at Le Mans on the Saleen racecar's number on the side doors, is a coating that can glow in the dark and literally be turned off and on with a low-voltage electrical charge. "Using an electroluminescent pigment, BASF research has produced automotive coatings that can glow with different, long-lasting colors at night," Hall said. "This material is a proprietary pigment and an electrical field produced within the coating. Creating this glow effect required combinations of very unique materials - including some discovered from BASF's Cosmetic Ingredients business - and very new kinds of layered applications for coatings."

    BASF will continue to develop its Constellation Colors experimental coatings line and work with automotive manufacturers interested in making this dynamic concept in color and design a commercial reality.

    The worldwide coatings segment of BASF has about 10,000 employees and achieved sales of about $2 billion in 2000. With global headquarters in Muenster, Germany, the BASF Coatings Division develops, produces and markets a high-quality range of innovative automotive OEM coatings, automotive refinishes and industrial coatings, as well as the processes needed to apply them. Major markets for this BASF segment are Europe, North and South America, and the Asia/Pacific region.

    BASF is the world's largest producer of chemicals and related products. Based in Mount Olive, N.J., BASF Corporation is the North American affiliate of BASF AG (Ludwigshafen, Germany), which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the trading symbol "BF." BASF Corporation had sales of $7.9 billion in 2000. BASF in North America employs more than 15,000 people at more than 50 locations, and can be found on the Internet at

    Constellation Colors is a trademark of BASF Corporation.