BMW's New Color-Changing Paper Will Replace Metal Badges

Scoop / 17 Comments

The brand's color-shifting tech seems to have myriad applications.

At the Consumer Electronics Show 2022, BMW presented color-changing paint to the world. Thereafter, we exclusively discovered that this tech will soon be making its way to more cars than just the iX. More recently, BMW has shown that the innovative technology can even be controlled by the power of thought. Before we get too carried away, we need to clarify that this color-changing idea is made possible through a special kind of film, not actual paint. This leads us to today's discovery. CarBuzz has exclusively uncovered another patent filed at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA), and it suggests an altogether new application for this so-called electronic paper.

CarBuzz
2021-2022 BMW 4 Series Coupe Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
2021-2022 BMW 4 Series Coupe Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2021-2022 BMW 4 Series Coupe Rear View CarBuzz

As we know, model designation lettering on cars is typically carried out by chrome-plated plastic. Millions of these are made to identify different models and the various engines available within those model ranges. For example, the 2022 BMW 4 Series Coupe is offered in the US with the designations 430i, 430i xDrive, M440i, and M440i xDrive. In other markets, you get a 420i model too, but the point is that, with each variant, more money is spent on unique badges to help correctly identify each derivative. The same thing is true of BMW's other ranges: 1 Series, 2 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, and so on. And we haven't even mentioned the X-badged SUVs and crossovers, or the M variants of each car. Then there are the EVs too. All of this plastic production is expensive and detrimental to the environment.

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DPMA
DPMA
DPMA
2021-2022 BMW 4 Series Coupe Front View BMW
Track King Comparison: BMW M4 CSL Vs. Porsche 911 GT3
Track King Comparison: BMW M4 CSL Vs. Porsche 911 GT3
10 Coolest Tech Features Of The New BMW 7 Series
10 Coolest Tech Features Of The New BMW 7 Series

To get around these problems, the patent proposes "activating hardware that is installed as standard but initially non-functional." The idea is that every car will get a strip of this so-called E Paper, and each individual model can then have this strip activated with the relevant model designation once production is complete.

The patent also suggests that, "using appropriate software upgrades even after the vehicle has been purchased, [...] a vehicle can be upgraded over the course of its vehicle life cycle," such that "it can become a vehicle with equipment that would be assigned to a different model designation."

This could mean over-the-air updates could allow you to get features that you didn't originally consider a requirement for your ownership experience, but there's a more exciting potential application too.

DPMA
DPMA
2021-2022 BMW 4 Series Coupe Rear View BMW

Imagine that owners of cars with a certain powerplant shared with higher-performance variants could pay to further enhance their cars after purchase. This seems unlikely in the age of combustion, as some cars require hardware upgrades. But with the advent of EVs, you could buy a new BMW i4 in eDrive40 spec and later remotely upgrade it (minus the styling enhancements) to the power level of the M50 model.

In addition, this invention could allow you to effectively "delete" the badge on your car to give it a cleaner look and maybe catch some unsuspecting opponents unawares with your sleeper that makes no reference to a high-performance drivetrain. It's a fascinating idea, and one that we think has a good chance of being pursued beyond the concept phase and into production.

2021-2022 BMW 4 Series Coupe Front View Driving BMW
2021-2022 BMW 4 Series Coupe Rear View Driving BMW
bmw 3series vs bmw 4series

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