BMW’s E-Ink Color Changing Car

At this year’s Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2022, the Munich based premium car manufacturer BMW debuted their new innovative color changing technology on a BMW iX Flow. For those who want to customize the look and aesthetic of their vehicles, the color technology allows users to change the exterior of their car to their liking, or adapt it based on environmental and functional needs.

The color changing technology is based upon e-ink, which is the same technology that is commonly found in eReaders such as the Kindle. BMW explains how 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.”

Furthermore, the color changing technology isn’t all just for aesthetics, BMW described how a variable exterior color can contribute to increased efficiency and wellness. As we know, a white surface reflects light, while a black surface absorbs light. As an implication, the “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.” As a result, the exterior of the car itself can be used to cool or heat the vehicle, and can potentially reduce the the vehicle’s energy and fuel consumption.

The exterior of the car can be changed with the press of a button, and can currently change to either black, white, or grey. However, don’t expect an official release or availability anytime soon, BMW has stated that this is simply an “advanced research and design project” at the moment. Nonetheless, it is still very impressive and pushes the boundaries in regards to car personalization/exterior design, and will give users more freedom in how they express themselves.