Cars can change colour at the touch of a button.

BMW has demonstrated how cars of the future could change their body colour at the whim of the driver.

The use of ‘E-ink’ has been unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The German car maker unveiled their innovation on the iX Flow model. It features their ‘E Ink’ concept, enabling it to seamlessly switch from black to white.

Future options

Frank Weber, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development, says the technology will be an optional choice in the future.

“Digital experiences won’t just be limited to displays,” he says. “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. It builds on existing technologies that enables drivers to customise the interior of their car, but also serves up potential improvements to efficiency and safety too.

A lighter colour can 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. The selective colour changes can help to cut the amount of cooling and heating required from the vehicle’s air conditioning, saving energy and reducing energy consumption..

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


Straight off the page

E Ink technology is most commonly utilised in eBooks such as Kindles. BMW have adapted it 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. Stimulation by means of an electrical field causes either the white or the black pigments to collect at the surface of the microcapsule. This results in giving the car body the desired shade.