BMW i5 Art Car Changes Colors On Demand

When BMW initially started using E Ink on its concept cars, it looked nice but seemed like a gimmick. The company has now developed the technology to the point that cars equipped with it may act as dynamic art displays in addition to changing color.

2024 BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA EXT 3 2048x1449

Drawing inspiration from the legendary E34-generation 1991 BMW 525i Art Car, which was created by the trailblazing artist Esther Mahlangu, who was the first African artist and woman to contribute to the series, the 2024 BMW i5 Flow Nostokana becomes the first art car with a design as dynamic as the canvas it is painted on.

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It makes sense that Mahlangu worked on the BMW i5 art car’s development. Its outside color-shifting effect was accomplished by carefully laser-cutting and individually controlling 1,349 sections of E Ink film.

The technology to manage the intricately curved external surfaces of a vehicle and the animations you see above is exclusive to BMW. Two strips along the side and two more across the hood, top, and trunk of the i5 Flow Nostokana are home to millions of microcapsules whose color can be altered with an electric current.

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Within the automotive industry, the new Art Car is the newest advancement for E Ink. BMW was only able to convert the E Ink’s black hue to white when it began installing it in cars in 2022. The BMW i5 Flow Nostokana showcases the automaker’s capacity to precisely construct intricate forms and patterns, while the BMW i Vision Dee concept from last year shows that its vehicles could display up to 32 colors.

The development process

BMW says that although the i5 Flow Nostokana will forever remain a one-off, the strips of E Ink that make its color-changing design possible are quite robust, which could make it possible to someday apply them to production vehicles. To go with the car, BMW has partnered with composer Renzo Vitale to create a soundscape that will be displayed at the Frieze Los Angeles starting February 29. The composition was created using the feathers Mahlangu uses to create her exquisite paintings, as well as her voice. These were mixed with the sound of pencils being used by BMW designers. According to Andrian van Hooydonk, the head of BMW Group Design:

“The BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA honors the history of the BMW brand and continues the story of our global cultural engagement in a unique way,. It combines art and design through progressive technology. Here, technology itself becomes art.”

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