If you’ve ever felt indecisive about what color vehicle to buy, BMW may have the car for you. The German automaker showed off its new color-changing paint technology at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that shares more in common with a Kindle than you’d think at first glance.
Relying on E Ink, the electronic paper technology used in e-readers, and the old Pebble watch, the color-changing paint technology is making its debut on a concept version of the BMW iX that is being presented at CES.
The surface coating of the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink 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, stimulation by means of an electrical field causes either the white or the black pigments to collect at the surface of the microcapsule, giving the car body the desired shade.
Just don’t expect to see this at your local BMW dealership anytime soon: the automaker says this is just an “advanced research and design project.”
The innovative paint scheme can be triggered at the touch of a button. Right now, the colors are limited to white, black, and grey. But despite the constrained palette, BMW says it could have implications for the efficiency of its electric vehicles.
“A white surface reflects a lot more sunlight than a black one,” the company says. “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 to absorb more warmth from the sun.
The concept of “personalization” is very popular right now in the auto industry. But while most of the efforts are focused on the interior, tweaking the software to remember the driver’s preferred vehicle settings, BMW is bringing the concept of personalization to the exterior of the vehicle.
How durable this high-tech paint is and whether it can withstand extreme weather is anyone’s guess. I can’t imagine this would handle well in a hail storm, for example. But don’t listen to me. Color-changing car!!
Andrew J. Hawkins