Technology – White, gray or black? Choosing your car’s shade won’t be a dilemma with BMW’s new paint technology unveiled at the Consumer Electronic Show 2022. In Las Vegas, the German automaker presented the concept car BMW iX Flow able to change colour according to the driver’s aesthetic preferences, environmental conditions or even functional requirements.
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The chameleon effect is possible by a specially developed ‘digital paper’ tailored precisely to the contours of the car’s body. The skin features E Ink, a special coating used to form the screen of the Kindle e-reader, which contains many millions of microcapsules, with a diameter equivalent to the thickness of a human hair.
Each of these microcapsules contains negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. Depending on the chosen setting, electrical stimulation causes either the white or the black pigments to collect at the surface of the microcapsule, giving the car body the desired shade.
The chameleon car “gives the driver the freedom to express different facets of their personality or even their enjoyment of change outwardly, and to redefine this each time they sit into their car,” says Stella Clarke, Head of Project for the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink. “Similar to fashion or the status ads on social media channels, the vehicle then becomes an expression of different moods and circumstances in daily life.”
Even if the colors are now limited to white, black, and grey, BMW says it could have implications for the efficiency of its electric vehicles. Indeed, white surfaces are more reflective than darker ones. “By implication, heating of the vehicle and passenger compartment as a result of strong sunlight and high outside temperatures can be reduced by changing the exterior to a light color.” In cooler weather, darker tones will help the vehicle absorb more warmth from the sun.
All images and the video by BMW.