BMW sent shockwaves through social media this morning as images started to appear from CES of its mysterious color-changing car. Videos appeared of a BMW iX in white suddenly changing to black and then back again. It looked like the work of wizardry but it's actually the very real creation of the Munich-based design team at BMW.
The BMW iX Flow uses electrophoretic technology to bring different colors of E ink to the surface of the special body wrap. The change takes just a few seconds to complete and can be controlled from within the vehicle.
The effect of this prototype is limited to a change between black and white but in theory other colors could be used. Eventually changing the color of the outside of your car could be as easy as changing the ambient lights inside.
While it's an impressive trick, there are more uses to this E ink than just vanity. A black or white coloring have different thermal properties, so changing the color could be done for energy saving purposes – white to reflect the sunlight and stay cooler and black to absorb rays and warm the car.
The color could also be used functionally to highlight when a car is fully charged, clean or available to hire, if in a fleet of vehicles. The nature of the E ink also means that the car has to just be black or white – so the level of charge could be displayed by how much as turned black or white. The car could also be made to flash between the colors to make it easier to find in a parking lot.
I'd love to see this technology made available soon. The BMW Flow really feels like the future but could just as easily by a few car generations away.
As if changing color wasn't enough, BMW also revealed a serious bit of technology for the inside of its cars. My Mode Theatre turns the rear passenger seats into a traveling cinema, complete with an ultra-wide 31-inch screen.
This certainly gives long trips in the back of a car a new perspective. The BMW Theatre Screen is a 32:9 format 8K display with Amazon Fire TV built in to allow easy streaming from a variety of sources. The display can also be used to adjust rear car features such as privacy blinds, windows and lighting to really get into the theater mood.
While this is another glimpse at the future of car entertainment, this feels like it's much closer to fruition and could be sliding its way into the back of a tricked out iX or super lux 8 Series in the not too distant future.
Finally, there was a new addition to the EV range announced, in the form of the iX M60. Described as bringing together the best of the i, X and M worlds, this new flagship iX has 1015 Mn of torque and a 0-60 of 2.36 seconds (3.8 sec 0-100kmh), making it one seriously quick SUV.
There's no shortage of luxury here either, as it sits on 22-inch titanium bronze wheels and features a large curved display, 5G connectivity and a driving soundtrack composed in collaboration with the Academy Award winning Hans Zimmer.
Despite all the power, this dual motor machine still boasts a range of up to 352 miles (566km) with AC charging at up to 11kW and DC charging at up to 200kW, giving you 80% charge in just 35 minutes.
The BMW iX M60 will have its global launch in June 2022.