Finally—a car that can change color

In great news for the indecisive and terrible news for police departments everywhere, BMW
has developed a car that changes color at the touch of a button.

It won’t be on sale at your local BMW dealership anytime soon. The German automaker revealed the magic paint on a version of its 2022 iX electric SUV at the Consumer Electronics Show. BMW says the technology is just for research and demonstration purposes…at least, so far. We’re pretty confident it’ll be in the script of a spy movie by the end of the day.

Called the iX Flow, the car uses the technology found in the screens of many e-readers.

Go from black to gray to white, or rock that ombré look.


BMW explains:

“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.”

The system can create any grayscale color.

Drivers wouldn’t have to choose a purely white, black, or gray car, either (though they could). Changing the electrical charge of parts of the surface could allow patterns. Shifting it gradually across the car could even allow moving patterns.

Check out: Onyx, nightfall, midnight—call it what you want, black is the new black in cars

It’s about more than changing tastes. BMW notes that, in hot weather, the white shade would reflect more sun than the dark, helping to keep the cabin cooler. A dark shade would absorb more heat from the sun in winter, letting you return to a warmer parked car.

Also see: What the electric-vehicle boom means for charging-station business

BMW didn’t comment on the system’s cost or how complex it might be to repair chips and scratches.

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