Just What We Needed Dept: A BMW With Paint So Black, It's Almost Invisible

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©. BMW Group

No "do the bright thing" for cars; instead, it is designed to "look particularly menacing."

There is something about a BMW that brings out the beast in drivers. Studies have shown that they are the worst at stopping for pedestrians. And now, submitted for your approval, we have the BMW VBX6 painted in Vantablack VBxc2. According to the press release,

Sideview of BMW ca

© BMW Group

A surface coated in Vantablack loses its defining features to the human eye, with objects appearing two-dimensional. This can be interpreted by the brain as staring into a hole or even a void, making Vantablack a rather unsuitable vehicle paint finish, as it blots out virtually all the design details and highlights.

It's an invisible car! Just what we need in our cities! According to the designer, Hussein Al Attar,

Internally, we often refer to the BMW X6 as “The Beast.” I think that says it all. The Vantablack VBx2 finish emphasises this aspect and makes the BMW X6 look particularly menacing.
rear of bow

© BMW Group

A menacing, invisible car! Ben Jensen, the inventor of the Vantablack paint, is thrilled.

I think it went beyond all our expectations. The BMW X6 in Vantablack looks absolutely fantastic. We also realised that it wouldn’t have worked if we’d put on the original material, as the viewer would have lost all sense of three-dimensionality. VBx2 with its one-percent reflectance provides just enough of a hint of shape.
BMW in paint shop

© BMW Group

This paint is a wonder of modern technology, made from carbon nanotubes, each "a length of 14 to 50 micrometres, with a diameter of 20 nanometres, making it around 5,000 times thinner than a human hair. As a result, around a billion of these vertically aligned carbon nanotubes fit into one square centimetre. Any light striking this surface is almost completely absorbed rather than reflected, and effectively converted into heat." Imagine how toasty it will be on a sunny day.

Front of car BMW

© BMW Group

Designer Al Attar is asked, "A Vantablack finish makes objects appear two-dimensional. Doesn’t that render it supremely unsuitable as a car paint, especially for a car with a design as expressive as the BMW X6?"

Yes, there is a certain inherent contradiction. But that’s exactly what makes this interesting and explains why the BMW X6 is the perfect car for this project. In addition, Vantablack VBx2 opens up new possibilities for us as designers. We often prefer to talk about silhouettes and proportions rather than surfaces and lines. The Vantablack VBx2 coating foregrounds these fundamental aspects of automotive design, without any distraction from light and reflections.
Rear of car with tail lights BMW

© BMW Group

This is just what every BMW driver needs. So what if studies show that dark car paint colors are associated with a 10 percent higher relative crash risk compared to white cars?

So what if the police and and safety advocate tell people who walk and bike to wear high-viz vests and do the bright thing, while BMW can sell a car "without any distraction from light and reflections"?

So what if "a Japanese study determined that if every car in the country had reflective paint, it would reduce carbon emissions by 210,000 tons a year" because it reflects heat; BMW will sell a car that absorbs light and turns it into heat.

grill on BMW

© BMW Group

Al Attar was right, this beast is menacing. And so it should be; BMW markets the BMW X6 with the tag line "absolute dominance." What did we expect?