There’s an undeniable sense of elegance, class, and power that comes with having a car clad in dark, or black, liveries. Though dark-coloured vehicle’s attractiveness wanes somewhat when, say, you’re getting into one after it’s been parked for the better part of an afternoon in the Singaporean sun. Well, how about if you could change that colour at will? 

That’s exactly what BMW’s concept car, recently shown off during CES 2022 in Las Vegas, brings to the table. The iX Flow is wrapped in an electrophoretic skin – that works much like an ebook reader – that reacts when stimulated by electrical signals, bringing different pigments to the surface of said skin across millions of microcapsules, each as thick as a human hair. This shift in pigments is what changes the colour of the vehicle.

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It’s a nifty bit of tech that’s more than a cool party trick. At its base level, the ‘E Ink’ technology provides yet another level of personalisation and customisability for owners of a BMW, both within and without their vehicles. It also allows drivers to flip between moods as they please, dressing the car to suit the situation. Most importantly, these expressions even be updated over time to keep in sync with the lastest design sensibilities. 

“This gives the driver the freedom to express different facets of their personality or even their enjoyment of change outwardly, and to redefine this each time they sit into their car,” says Head of Project for the BMW iX Flow Stella Clarke. “Similar to fashion or the status ads on social media channels, the vehicle then becomes an expression of different moods and circumstances in daily life.”

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Apart from aesthetics, there are also more pragmatic considerations. White surfaces reflect more sunlight, and therefore absorb less heat, than a black one. Selective colour changes would pare down the amount of cooling or heating necessary to keep the car’s interior temperature cosy and comfortable – thereby increasing the vehicle’s efficiency, and, in the case of an all-electric vehicle, even its range. And if you’re wondering, it doesn’t take a constant current to keep the BMW’s colour going – only a switch requires any electrical current.

For now, the E Ink technology remains confined to the realm of a concept vehicle. And, based on how the tech’s described in the press release, the vehicle will only be capable of switching between two colours for now. So there’s no telling how, or if, it’ll be implemented in production vehicles. Until then, we can keep dreaming – Technicolour and all.