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Blacker Than Black BMW X6 Sucks The Light Out Of Frankfurt

Paint Job / 16 Comments

It's doesn't get blacker than Vantablack.

Every car has the color in which it most belongs. Ferraris in red, for example. Bentleys in green. Bugattis in blue. And BMWs, as often as not, it seems, are ordered in black. But none are quite as black as this one.

Created to highlight the launch of the new, third-generation BMW X6 – shown for the first time here in Frankfurt – this crossover coupe has been done up in Vantablack VBX2, a nanostructure paint finish, developed for aerospace applications by Surrey NanoSystems and applied here to a wheeled passenger vehicle for the first time.

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So just how black is Vantablack? It's so black that it looks to the naked eye more like a hole, devoid of any color or detail, than it does a painted vehicle. It might have barely have shown up at all if not for the ambient and spotlights BMW placed around it at a special display.

Short for Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array, Vantablack is made up of carbon nanotubes just 14-50 micrometers long with an unfathomably narrow diameter of just 20 nanometers. If you can't quite wrap your head around just how small that is, consider that it's 5,000 times thinner than a human hair.

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Every square centimeter of the vehicle's surface packs a billion nanotubes. Once applied, it absorbs 99.965 percent of light. So not only does it not reflect like a typical metallic, pearl, or even matte finish would, it essentially swallows up the light on which our eyes (and cameras) depend to register shapes and objects. All you can see by looking at it are the parts not coated in VBX2, like the tires, lights, grille, and windows.

"We turned down numerous requests from various automobile manufacturers in the past," said Surrey NanoSystems CTO Ben Jensen. "It took the BMW X6 and its unique, expressive design for us to entertain the idea."

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