During CES 2022, BMW removed the cover on the BMW iX M60 performance SAV. Yes, their X series of vehicles are known as Sports Activity Vehicles for the lifestyle crowd. The iX M60 can complete the century sprint in 3.8 seconds thanks to its dual electric motors providing a total system output of 619 Hp and 1100 Nm of peak torque. However, it is common for BMW to underestimate their 0-100 km/h time, so we will soon find out the actual time when the car gets into the hands of reviewers.
Normally a car like the iX M60 would steal the show, but it’s shocking to find out that this isn’t the case. The real star is a car that you can’t even purchase anytime soon.
That car is the BMW iX Flow which is equipped with BMW Flow Technology. I’m sure you figured it out from the title that the BMW iX Flow can change its exterior and rim colour at a touch of a button, or rather a tap of an icon. Not only that, but it can display any number of designs and patterns as it is not just limited to changing to a single solid colour.
How is this possible you ask? Well sit down while I grab my lab coat because it’s about to get technical.
Now, BMW did not create a paint or a metal that can change colour, but instead wrapped the car with an electrophoretic paper or better known as E Ink paper. That’s right, similar to displays of E Readers like the Kindle. However, unlike a Kindle, the wrap here contains millions of microcapsules. Each microcapsule contains negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. Then, depending on the kind of electrical current introduced, either the black or white pigments will collect at the surface of the microcapsule.
To allow for the creation of designs and patterns, BMW created many segments on the wrap allowing for each segment to display colours irrespective of other segments. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see the segments created by the circuitry. Using E Ink paper is clever because it doesn’t use any energy to display the colour. It is only when the colour is changed that energy is used.
Other than just matching your outfit, BMW is planning on using this technology several different ways. We know from learning about it in primary school that dark surfaces absorb heat while bright surfaces reflect heat. BMW is using this science fact to regulate the temperature of the vehicles by altering the exterior colour. So, during hot days, the car can change to a lighter exterior colour to reflect heat and keep the cabin cool, reducing the energy required to cool the cabin. Then, during cold days, the car can change to a darker colour to increase heat absorption and keep the cabin warm, reducing the energy required by the heater. Other ways of using this tech is like a giant display to indicate battery percentage, to be used for advertisments and to make it flash so you can quickly spot it in a crowded parking lot.
Lastly, BMW plans on integrating Flow Technology with their Digital Art Mode to allow drivers to use the BMW iX Flow as an extension of their artistic expression. They will be able to display their artwork not only on the screens inside the car, but transform the whole car into a moving piece of art. Although Digital Art Mode will be available in the second half of 2022, there is no timetable on the availability of BMW Flow Technology.
So to wrap up, would you option your future BMW with Flow Technology? For me it’s a definite yes!
If you’re interested in a BMW iX that you can buy today, you can read more about the iX xDrive40 here.
This is not the first time BMW has played with the colour of the cars. Back in August of 2019, BMW partnered with Surrey NanoSystems to paint the company’s Vantablack on the then all new BMW X6. Vantablack was known to be the blackest black paint on earth. Check out the video below.