BMW iX Flow Featuring E Ink: Color-Changing Exterior Wrap

The color of a vehicle matters. It’s the first thing you see, and it often becomes the main identifier of the vehicle. It’s a deal breaker and a deal maker. It tortures the shopper and divides soul mates. To change colors, you can repaint or wrap, two costly options that still produce a problematically permanent palette.

What would be ideal? Changing the exterior color with the push of a button, of course. At the driver’s prompting, based on mood or situation, the ability to swiftly saunter into a different shade would be more magical than a glittery unicorn riding a sprinkle tusked narwhal in a marshmallow sea. It sounds impossible, but BMW is developing a magical body wrap aimed at making fluid color changes possible.

It’s called the BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink, and while it’s currently a BMW research and design project unveiled at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show, we’re hopeful this technology will find its way onto future production vehicles.

BMW iX Flow uses electrophoretic coloring, which is based on a technology developed by E Ink and popularized through eReader displays. It’s the digitization of the exterior. Basically, a super cutting-edge ePaper “body wrap” contains millions of tiny microcapsules consisting of negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments. Electrical field stimulation causes either the white or black pigments to collect at the microcapsule’s surface, resulting in varying colors. Different color pigments are drawn to the surface depending on the electrical signal. The E Ink technology color-changing process is very energy efficient, as current only flows during the color change phase and no further energy is needed to keep the desired color constant.

Beyond the empowerment and utter sense of freedom achieved by changing your car’s color on a whim, there are practical implications that could increase the range of an electric vehicle like the iX. For example, lighter colors reflect sunlight, while darker colors absorb. By implication, picking an ideal color could theoretically reduce the amount of cooling or heating required, preserving energy.

Both fun and practical, this color-changing concept has us tickled pink.

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