Jay Leno is a well-known gearhead, and as such, he sometimes gets to try out new cars, and even new automotive technology, before it hits the market. Such was the case with BMW’s car color-changing technology, which Leno was happy to test out but about which he also raised some concerns.
Leno began a recent episode of Jay Leno’s Garage by talking about the gray 2022 BMW iX Flow that was parked in his garage. But as the demonstration progressed, the car shifted hue. It turns out the car features e-ink that changes the car’s color like a mood ring. A German engineer devised the technology.
“I like the freethinking aspect of it,” Leno said. “It’s fascinating.” He imagined changing the car’s colors from summer (white) to winter (black), to reflect or absorb sunlight.
Leno further pointed out that the technology could have military applications, changing colors to camouflage in the desert or a forest. But he also raised concerns about the legal implications – if law enforcement were chasing a certain color of car, they could be thrown off the chase when the car changes color.
Jay Leno Tests Out New BMW With E-Ink
“You know, I’ve always been a fan of BMW,” Leno began his opening monologue. “When I was a kid, I worked at a BMW dealership… I always felt BMW made the smoothest six-cylinder engine in history. I remember driving one of the coups, a 1971, and I was just stunned at how turbine-like it was. So I’ve always been a fan of this company, and they’ve always been on the cutting edge a bit. This is really cutting edge.”
Leno went on to bring in Markus Brandly, a vehicle analyst with BMW EETC. And Brandly explained how e-ink works. It’s a foil that has millions of micro-capsules at its center, with electrically-charged pigment within them. Using an iPhone, you can bring the different particles of ink (white, gray, black) to the surface of the foil.
“We’re in an era now where cars are so complex, you can’t really modify the performance aspect of the car,” Leno said. “Because electric cars are fast anyway. So you have to go to other things. So to personalize your car, this is how you would do it. You would change the color.”
“That’s the one thing about a car, is personalization,” Leno added. “A car is like a house – everybody wants to make it theirs and make it different.”
Leno then took the car out for a spin, letting it shift colors constantly all the while. And as he drove around Los Angeles with Brandly in the passenger seat, he held forth on a range of topics, from customization to generational differences in learning how to use a car.
“This [car] is maybe for the iPhone generation,” Brandly said. “When my son looks at it, he’s flying through those applications at top speed.”
Watch the full demonstration here: