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BMW unveils innovative colour change tech

BMW has revealed it’s astonishing new ‘E Ink’ tech - which allows drivers to change the colour of their car at the touch of a button.

BMW iX Flow 1

The potentially ground-breaking development has been unveiled married to BMW’s all-electric iX SUV. This colour-morphing iX is being called the ‘iX Flow’.

And not only does it offer a ‘whole new level of decision-making freedom in the future’, according to the men in white coats at the German firm, it could also help you conserve power in your battery.

Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development, says: 

"Digital experiences won't just be limited to displays in the future. There will be more and more melding of the real and virtual. With the BMW iX Flow, we are bringing the car body to life."

So how does it all work?

BMW says that it’s all down to a special body wrap that utilises something called ‘electrophoresis’. In layman’s terms, this means that molecules within the wrap respond to electrical current, allowing some ‘microcapsules,’ to move to the bottom of the wrap’s thin gel, while others move to the top.

BMW iX Flow 2

Hence, at the flick of a switch, you can have either white paint microcapsules or black paint particles visible on the car’s exterior surface.

BMW iX Flow 3

A BMW spokesperson explains:

“When stimulated by electrical signals, the electrophoretic technology brings different colour pigments to the surface, causing the body skin to take on the desired colouration."

BMW iX Flow 4

“The innovative E Ink technology opens completely new ways of changing the vehicle's appearance in line with the driver's aesthetic preferences, the environmental conditions or even functional requirements.”

Stella Clarke, Head of Project for the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink, adds: “This 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.

“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."

BMW iX Flow 5

And what about the paint improving efficiency? How does all that work?

BMW points to the fact that different paint colours actually retain or repel heat better than others. So, you might feasibly be able to swap colours as you please based on how cold or warm it is outside.

Our BMW spokesperson says: 

“A white surface reflects a lot more sunlight than a black one. 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 colour. In cooler weather, a dark outer skin will help the vehicle to absorb noticeably more warmth from the sun.
“In both cases, selective colour changes can help to cut the amount of cooling and heating required from the vehicle's air conditioning. This reduces the amount of energy the vehicle electrical system needs and with it also the vehicle's fuel or electricity consumption. In an all-electric car, changing the colour in line with the weather can therefore also help to increase the range. In the interior, the technology could, for example, prevent the dashboard from heating up too much.”

What’s more, the E Ink tech itself is said to be ‘extremely energy efficient’, and doesn’t require constant energy to remain in a colour state.

As for when this E Ink tech might trickle its way down to actual production cars, BMW is holding its cards close to its chest. But you’d imagine there would be a huge demand for such an option, and the firm acknowledges real ‘potential for future interior and exterior applications’.

Watch this space.

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Tuesday, 18/01/2022