It’s not a mashup of three different cars in the animated gif above; it’s just one car changing colours. That’s thanks to E Ink’s electrophoretic technology, which BMW showed in a car application at CES 2022 on Wednesday.
The iX Flow is a showcar that uses electrophoretic technology similar to that used in E Ink to alter its exterior colour extremely instantly. So, how does it work? The iX features a particular wrap that uses electrical stimulation to bring multiple colour pigments to the surface. Colors can change from front to back, side to side, in stripes, blotches, and other patterns. This is possible because to the E Ink wrap.
There are two major advantages to using E Ink. For starters, it opens up a whole new world of personalization, allowing owners to change the colour and style of their vehicle based on their mood, scenario, or whatever. The car “becomes an expression of different moods and circumstances in daily life,” according to Stella Clarke, the project manager for the iX Flow. The only colours available right now are black, white, and grey, which is perfect if your “different moods and circumstances in daily life” included being sad on a wet day. (I understand.)
What about the other advantage? Efficiency has improved. White cars will stay cooler than black cars on hot, bright days because they reflect more sunlight. Similarly, dark exterior hues help the automobile absorb more sunlight, and thus more heat, on cold days. BMW claims that by reducing the amount of heating or cooling required to condition the car on hot or cold days, the automobile’s overall operating economy will improve, even if the change is small.
The iX Flow’s wrap is formed of e-paper segments, which is the same technology used in e-reader tablets. Because of this, the iX can only change colours in grayscale, but as E Ink technology advances to include more bright colours (hopefully), the iX Flow will be able to do so as well. After all, it’s just a concept; as cool as it is, there’s no way of knowing whether BMW would actually produce color-changing body panels.