If you’re looking for sophistication and even elegance, not to mention a bit of menace, for your car than the clear choice is to go with a black paint job. But the challenge with black is that every bit of dirt and even every ding shows up in glaring detail. Surrey NanoSystems has come up with a new black paint that does away with that—Vantablack, and it’s solely available on the BMW X6.
“We turned down numerous requests from various automobile manufacturers in the past,” explains Surrey NanoSystems’ founder and Chief Technical Officer Ben Jensen. “It took the BMW X6 and its unique, expressive design for us to entertain the idea. For the third-generation BMW X6, those design details that won over Jensen include the optional Iconic Glow kidney grille, twin headlights and taillights that have a distinctive shape, and the sleek, sensuous lines BMW is famous for.
Vantablack is a real game changer when it comes to paint. While the color black already absorbs colors, Surrey NanoSystems’ black sucks in 99.96 percent of all visible light. The effect is that the car looks like a black hole on four wheels. It’s not just that you’re not seeing light with Vantablack; it’s that you’re seeing the absence of light. That absence is why Vantablack is able to hide those little imperfections. In effect, Vantablack turns a 3D object into a 2D object. Of course, that would mean that you won’t see any of the lines and details of the body, so that’s why BMW uses a variant of Vantablack—VBx2—that has a one percent total hemispherical reflectance that allows a small amount of reflection from every angle.
“We often prefer to talk about silhouettes and proportions rather than surfaces and lines,” states Hussein Al Attar, Creative Director of Automotive Design at Designworks and the designer responsible for the new BMW X6. “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 Vanatablack underscores, albeit in a rather unexpected fashion.”