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BMW X6 is the first vehicle coated in Vantablack

Frank­furt Motor Show organ­ised for Sep­tem­ber will pro­vide the back­drop for the world pre­miere of the third-gen­er­a­tion BMW X6, the car that estab­lished the Sports Activ­i­ty Coupé seg­ment for the past good ten years.

BMW X6, is the first and only vehi­cle in the world to fea­ture a Vantablack VBx2 paint fin­ish.

At the event, BMW will present a spec­tac­u­lar one-off vehi­cle with a Vantablack® VBx2 nanos­truc­ture paint fin­ish, high­light­ing the expres­sive design lan­guage and con­fi­dent, dom­i­nant and mus­cu­lar appear­ance of the new BMW X6 to per­fec­tion.

This exclu­sive show results from a col­lab­o­ra­tion between BMW and Sur­rey NanoSys­tems, the inven­tors of the Vantablack tech­nol­o­gy.

“We turned down many requests from var­i­ous vehi­cles man­u­fac­tur­ers in the past,” explains Ben Jensen, founder and Chief Tech­ni­cal Offi­cer of Sur­rey NanoSys­tems, say­ing it took the BMW X6 and its unique, expres­sive design years for us to enter­tain the idea.

” With design high­lights like the option­al Icon­ic Glow kid­ney grille, dis­tinc­tive twin head­lights and strik­ing tail­lights, the new BMW X6 pro­vides fas­ci­nat­ing con­trasts to off­set the Vantablack VBx2 paint fin­ish. It changes the viewer’s visu­al per­cep­tion of an object’s three-dimen­sion­al shape,” said Jensen

Sur­rey NanoSys­tems coat­ed BMW X6 in the VBx2 vari­ant devel­oped for archi­tec­tur­al and sci­en­tif­ic appli­ca­tions.

They can spray this coat­ing on and has a one-per-cent total hemi­spher­i­cal reflectance, mean­ing the com­pa­ny still con­sid­er it “super black” while enabling a small amount of reflec­tion from every angle.

Mate­ri­als paint­ed with it seem to lose their three-dimen­sion­al appear­ance – as showed on the BMW X6.

Vantablack: the “black­est black”, devel­oped for aero­space appli­ca­tions.

The name Vantablack has already become syn­ony­mous with an entire range of black coat­ings and paints such as VBx2.

It con­tains an acronym of the tech­nol­o­gy enabling this supe­ri­or black in its first two syl­la­bles, which stand for Aligned Nano Tube Array, a matrix made of car­bon.

Each of these car­bon nan­otubes has 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 aligned car­bon nan­otubes fit into one square cen­time­tre.

It absorbs any light strik­ing the sur­face rather than reflect­ing, and con­vert­ing into heat.

“We devel­oped this tech­nol­o­gy for coat­ing space-borne com­po­nents,” said Jensen.

As we can apply Vantablack at tem­per­a­tures from as low as 430 degrees Cel­sius,  said Jensen it is suit­able for del­i­cate mate­ri­als such as alu­mini­um, and opti­cal com­po­nents coat­ed in Vantablack.

“It enable obser­va­tion of faint stars and dis­tant galax­ies that stray light from the sun makes dif­fi­cult to detect,” he said.

The first gen­er­a­tion of Vantablack intro­duced by Sur­rey NanoSys­tems in 2014 absorbed up to 99.965 per cent of light, almost elim­i­nat­ing reflectance and stray light.

An inter­view with Ben Jensen, Vantablack inven­tor and founder of Sur­rey NanoSys­tems.

What was your first thought when you were approached with the idea of pro­vid­ing the BMW X6 with a Vantablack paint fin­ish?

Ben Jensen: To be hon­est, we received inquiries from most of the big-name auto­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers, almost from the day we launched the orig­i­nal mate­r­i­al in 2014, but we’d always said no. This was also due to the fact that we only had a suit­able mate­r­i­al once we came up with VBx2. When we were approached by BMW, we were still quite hes­i­tant to begin with. But the new X6 looked so incred­i­bly dif­fer­ent that it just felt like a real­ly good fit

Have your expec­ta­tions been met?

Jensen: 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-per-cent reflectance pro­vides just enough of a hint of shape. Add to that the con­trast between the matt black sur­face and details such as the Icon­ic Glow kid­ney grille, the head­lights and the win­dows – every­thing is just set off beau­ti­ful­ly.

Hypo­thet­i­cal­ly speak­ing, could you imag­ine Vantablack VBx2 becom­ing a reg­u­lar paint fin­ish option for peo­ple buy­ing a car in the future?

Jensen: I think it worked real­ly well on the BMW X6, because of the size of the car, its dis­tinc­tive shape, and how impos­ing it is. But putting a paint like that on a con­ven­tion­al car lack­ing a dis­tinc­tive design would prob­a­bly detract from it in some way. In addi­tion, devel­op­ing a Vantablack VBx2 car paint durable enough for dai­ly use is a huge tech­no­log­i­cal chal­lenge.


How­ev­er, Vantablack already has an impor­tant role in advanced auto­mo­tive tech­nol­o­gy …

Jensen: Indeed, the mate­r­i­al is now being used more and more in var­i­ous types of, laser-based sen­sor equip­ment for dri­ver assis­tance sys­tems and tech­nolo­gies for autonomous dri­ving, for instance. That is because inci­dent sun­light can cause a degra­da­tion of per­for­mance in these sys­tems as well. A Vantablack coat­ing elim­i­nates these issues and results in increased safe­ty.

An inter­view with Hus­sein Al Attar, Cre­ative Direc­tor Auto­mo­tive Design at Design­works and the design­er respon­si­ble for the new BMW X6.

 What does it mean to you that “your” BMW X6 is the first car in the world to have been cho­sen for such a project by the mak­ers of Vantablack?

Al Attar: I first heard about Vantablack a few years ago – and I’ve been absolute­ly fas­ci­nat­ed with the tech­nol­o­gy ever since. So, for me per­son­al­ly, this is a big deal. When my col­leagues told me about a pos­si­ble col­lab­o­ra­tion some months ago, I was very excit­ed.

What makes the BMW X6 the per­fect car for this project?

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. More­over, the BMW X6 has always been the most provoca­tive and in-your-face mod­el in our port­fo­lio. So why not empha­sise this even fur­ther, with a fin­ish that sim­ply cap­ti­vates the viewer’s atten­tion? After all, that’s what the BMW X6 has always been about.

But 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?

Al Attar: 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. I am very proud of how beau­ti­ful the new BMW X6 has turned out, includ­ing its bold and expres­sive sur­faces. But the most remark­able evo­lu­tion over the pre­de­ces­sor con­cerns its pro­por­tions. And that is pre­cise­ly what Vantablack under­scores, albeit in a rather unex­pect­ed fash­ion.

Hypo­thet­i­cal­ly speak­ing, could you imag­ine Vantablack VBx2 becom­ing a reg­u­lar paint fin­ish option for peo­ple buy­ing a car in the future?

Al Attar: Absolute­ly. BMW X6 dri­vers are among our most extro­vert and free-spir­it­ed cus­tomers. If any­one were to opt for a Vantablack paint option, it would def­i­nite­ly be a BMW X6 dri­ver.

Third-gen­er­a­tion BMW X6 to start in Novem­ber 2019.

The lat­est incar­na­tion of the car that estab­lished the inno­v­a­tive and dis­tinc­tive Sports Activ­i­ty Coupé (SAC) seg­ment will have its world pre­miere at the 2019 Frank­furt Motor Show, from 12 to 22 Sep­tem­ber.

The show­room launch will begin short­ly after­wards, in Novem­ber 2019.

The third-gen­er­a­tion BMW X6 employs a pre­cise and exclu­sive design lan­guage to under­score its con­fi­dent, dom­i­nant appear­ance.

In addi­tion, its advanced pow­er­train and chas­sis tech­nol­o­gy com­bines with numer­ous inno­va­tions to pro­vide a unique­ly sporty yet lux­u­ri­ous dri­ving expe­ri­ence.

Like its pre­de­ces­sors, the new BMW X6 is pro­duced at the BMW plant in Spar­tan­burg in the Unit­ed States.

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