A vehicle vinyl wrap describes the automotive aftermarket practice of completely or partially covering a vehicle’s original paint with a vinyl wrap. Generally this vinyl wrap will be a different color or finish like a gloss, matte or clear protective layer. Other terms used to refer to vehicle vinyl wrap are car wrap, paint wrap, color change wrap, vehicle graphics, and paint protection film.
Vehicle vinyl wrap and color change wrap grew in popularity out of the wrap advertising business. A large milestone in the shift from small production vinyl lettering to a full vehicle vinyl color change took place in Germany in 1993 when the vinyl manufacturer Kay Premium Marking Films (KPMF) was asked to produce a film to be used in place of paint for the purpose of converting cars into taxis.
At this time, German taxi companies were required by law to paint their fleets in a government-mandated color, beige. KPMF provided an alternative to painting, which allowed taxi companies to bring a large fleet of vehicles into compliance with German law while maintaining the future resale value of the vehicle.
Prior to this point, decommissioned taxis were heavily discounted or had to be completely repainted. With the use of vinyl wrap car design, there was no need to repaint them or discount them as the vinyl could be removed without damaging the paint underneath. KPMF documented after 3 years of taxi service was complete, the vinyl was removed leaving a “pristine and unscratched paint surface”.
Wrap installers that performed advertising vinyl, began to offer accent and full vinyl wraps as a cosmetic enhancement. Vehicle owners correspondingly drove demand and requested vinyl wraps that suited their desires. Rather than advertise a company or brand, vehicle owners wanted to change the color and finish of their vehicle for cosmetic or protective purposes. Manufacturers of vinyl wrap car design followed this trend by producing more colors and easier to install durable materials.