BMW debuted the world’s first “color-changing” vehicle at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The BMW iX Flow concept car uses electronic ink technology similar to that used in e-readers to morph the car’s exterior into a variety of gray and white designs.
Why is color-changing important?
“Using the technology E Ink, this is an extremely energy-efficient color change,” BMW research engineer Stella Clarke explained. “So we took this material – it’s like thick paper – and our challenge was to get it onto a three-dimensional item like our automobiles.”
The substance brings changing pigments to the surface when stimulated by electrical signals controlled by a phone app, causing the car to take on a distinct tint or design, such as racing stripes.
Why only black and white?
However, at the time, the technique can only produce a color shift between white and black. Even so, there are benefits to doing so. The color white reflects a lot more light than the color black. Under this regard, in bright sunlight and high outside temperatures, the vehicle’s heating might be greatly lowered.
When exposed to sunshine in cold weather, a car with black skin absorbs substantially more heat. A tailored color change could lessen the effort of the cooling or heating system in both circumstances. This is a situation that saves energy, especially in the case of electric vehicles, and so increases range.
Are color-changing vehicles feasible?
According to BMW, no energy is required to retain the color selected by the driver.
“My favorite application is using color to alter sunshine reflections,” Clarke added. “You could change the color white to reflect sunlight on a hot, sunny day like today.” You may turn it dark on a cold day to absorb the heat.”
Though the vehicle on show at CES could only switch between gray and white, BMW says the technology will be expanded to encompass a wider range of colors.