BMW will be unveiling its third-generation X6, which it says is the car that established the Sports Activity Coupe segment. The unveiling of the new X6 will come at the Frankfurt Motor Show and at that event will be a version of the BMW X6 slathered in Vantablack VBx2 nanostructure paint. The vehicle is a collaboration between BMW and Surrey Nanosystems, the inventors of the Vantablack technology.
The BMW X6 is the first and only vehicle in the world to be painted with the Vantablack VBx2 paint finish. Ben Jensen, founder, and CTO of Surrey NanoSystems says that the company has turned down numerous requests by automakers, but the X6 and its "unique, expressive design" made the company entertain the idea.
Vantablack is a strange choice for vehicle paint because a surface coated with it loses the defining features to the human eye, and the paint makes the vehicle appear two-dimensional. The human brain can interpret this as staring into a hole or a void, making Vantablack unsuitable as a vehicle finish because it hides all design details and highlights. However, given the general disdain for the X6 in the enthusiasts community, this might not be such a bad thing...
The X6 was coated in a variant called VBx2 because it can be sprayed on and has a 1% total hemispherical reflectance, meaning it allows a small amount of reflection of light from every angle. VANTA stands for Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array and is a matrix made out of carbon. Each of the carbon nanotubes in the material is 14 to 15 micrometers long with a diameter of 20 nanometers. That is about 5,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Vantablack was initially developed for coating space-borne components. The material can be applied at temperatures as low as 430 degrees Celsius and is suitable for coating aluminum. Optical components coated in Vantablack enable observation of faint stars and distant galaxies that the stray light from the sun makes hard to detect. The first generation Vantablack unveiled in 2014 absorbed up to 99.965% of light.
BMW was most recently in the news when it upset fans when it launched an $80 yearly subscription for access to Apple CarPlay.