This isn't an April Fool's joke, Audi's done it.
In the aftermarket industry, color-flipping paints are very popular, but manufacturers have occasionally offered them too. These paint finishes look different depending on how light is bouncing off them. Other types of special paints change color with heat, but to see this change happen requires throwing hot or cold water over the car to see the alternative look. Regardless of how the effect is achieved, there isn't much point to it besides the obvious aesthetic appeal. But what if your car could change color at the touch of a button? That's just what Audi plans to do, at least according to patents filed with the German patent office, discovered by CarBuzz.
Like so many others in the industry, Audi is pushing ahead with its plans for an electric future, so reducing energy consumption in any way could be beneficial as the brand aims to become cleaner than ever before. Audi claims that its adaptive color invention would help achieve this since "black vehicles consume 1-2% more energy than white vehicles in midsummer." To achieve this lower consumption, Audi wants to use a display film that includes "a graphic film layer having a displayable image and a background color, a switchable film layer and a color coat layer. The switchable film layer is switchable between a clear state and a dark state. When the switchable film layer is energized, either the displayable graphic is displayed on a top side of the display film against the background color, or only the background color is displayed on top of the display film." This is not dissimilar to what BMW and Rolls-Royce have attempted with the Privacy Suite function in the Phantom.
One of the ways to make this work is with polymer-dispersed liquid crystal particles (PDLC) based on a polymer liquid crystal film. When an electrical voltage is applied, the liquid crystal molecules could rearrange themselves in the electrical field, making the previously opaque film transparent to the eye. This could be controlled from within the cabin, and when you want to go back to a dark car, simply deactivate the electrical charge and the molecules will rearrange to form an opaque finish. This would mean less energy could be consumed on cooling, making the car more efficient. It's worth noting that such an invention may be very expensive and may never make it to mass production, but if it someday does, electric vehicles like the Audi e-tron GT could become more efficient - and more stylish - at the touch of a button.