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BMW unveils colour-changing car technology

BMW iX

BMW has demonstrated how cars of the future could change their body colour at the touch of a button, using E Ink.

Unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show, last week, the German car maker’s innovation was fitted to the iX Flow featuring E Ink concept, enabling it to seamlessly switch from black to white.

Frank Weber, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development, said: "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."

The coating provides a new level of personalisation for BMW drivers – building on existing technologies that enables drivers to customise the interior of their car - but also serves to improve efficiency and safety.

A lighter colour can reduce reflect sunlight more effectively, helping to reduce interior temperatures, while in cooler weather, a dark outer skin will help the vehicle to absorb noticeably more warmth from the sun. In both cases, BMW says selective colour changes can help to cut the amount of cooling and heating required from the vehicle's air conditioning.

Changing the vehicle’s colour can also help to make it more visible in adverse conditions, or if it’s parked at the roadside.

E Ink technology is most commonly utilised in eReaders, such as the Amazon Kindle, but has been adapted by BMW so it can be applied to the car’s body like a vinyl wrap.

The coating 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.

BMW unveiled the iX Flow featuring E Ink alongside a new flagship M60 version of its electric SUV that offers 619PS and a 357-mile range.

The ‘hot’ iX is the brand’s second electric car to get an overhaul from BMW’s M Division, following the debut of the i4 M50.


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