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Color Changing Cars: What To Know About This Dazzling Tech

Will the BMW color changing car be a game-changer?

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Tom Hale

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Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Edited by Francesca Benson
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Francesca Benson

Copy Editor and Staff Writer

Francesca Benson is a Copy Editor and Staff Writer with a MSci in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham.

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A concept design for the BMW i Vision Dee, which can change the appearance of its exterior in up to 32 colours.

A concept design for the BMW i Vision Dee, which can change the appearance of its exterior in up to 32 colours.

Image credit: BMW

Color-changing cars have suddenly sped into reality and could soon be making their way to a highway near you. So, who’s developing this dazzling technology? How does it work? And what hurdles are there to overcome?

How do color changing cars work?

The first color-changing car to be revealed to the public was BMW’s iX Flow, which made its debut at CES 2022 in Las Vegas. 

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Billed as “the world’s first color-changing car,” the vehicle allowed users to switch the car’s exterior color between black, white, or a blend of shades with the press of a button. The idea was that drivers could opt for white on hot days to reflect the sun’s energy and black on cold ones to absorb it.

It works using Electronic Paper Display (EPD) technology. The car is coated with an electrophoretic film that features millions of microcapsules, no wider than a human hair. Each capsule contains negatively charged white pigments and positively charged black pigments that only become visible when the appropriate electrical field is run through it. 

BMW i Vision DEE

At CES 2023, BMW released a new model of color-changing car – the BMW i Vision Dee – that could produce all the colors of the rainbow, not just monochrome shades. The car uses similar technology to the iX Flow, but is capable of producing up to 32 different colors.

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The body of the i Vision Dee is comprised of 240 different sections that change color independently, allowing the car to display multi-colored patterns. All of the commands can be instructed through voice control and will be delivered within seconds. 

The "Dee" in the name stands for Digital Emotional Experience, which BMW says underlines their hope to “reinforce the emotional connection between cars and people.”

“With the BMW i Vision Dee, we are showcasing what is possible when hardware and software merge. In this way, we are able to exploit the full potential of digitalization to transform the car into an intelligent companion. That is the future for automotive manufacturers – and, also, for BMW: the fusion of the virtual experience with genuine driving pleasure,” Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, said in a statement.

Color changing car laws

Laws and regulations could be a possible hurdle for color-changing cars hitting the market. As it stands, there are no laws related to vehicles that can immediately change color using electricity. 

However, under current regulations in the US, car owners are required to inform the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and their insurance provider if they change the predominant color of their vehicle. Likewise in the UK, drivers must inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and their insurer.

It’s not clear yet how this framework will apply to cars that can instantly change their color with a simple voice command. 


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