BMW debuted a new electric concept car called the iX Flow at CES 2022 that features color-changing panels coated with E Ink. This is the same technology used in ereaders.
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.
BMW’s E Ink can only change between black and white, but it can be animated. Stella Clarke, project leader for the BMW iX Flow, said it could offer greater levels of expression and be used to show charging status, messages, and even assist an owner in locating their car by blinking.
Another use case relates to temperature; one could adjust the color to cool or heat the vehicle. People who live in places that swing from colder to hotter temperatures over the course of a year would fully appreciate that ability.
“By implication, 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 color,” the company said.
BMW says the technology is not planned for production and is just an “advanced research and design project.” BMW’s E Ink could theoretically work with other colors beyond black and white. Endurance over the life of the car or how it would react to damage is not known, nor is its potential cost. It seems that BMW might be on to something based on the interest it’s generated.