Vantablack, the world’s “blackest black,” has had a controversial start to life, and now it’s coming to a special edition BMW X6.
The one-off X6 sprayed with a Vantablack VBx2 finish will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where BMW will premiere the third-generation of the vehicle, according to a statement from the automaker.
Vantablack absorbs 99% of light, making it the darkest pigment on Earth. British artist Anish Kapoor drew the ire of many when he bought the exclusive rights to Vantablack in 2016, but the Vantablack VBx2 is a slightly different material.
It’s considered “super-black” while still giving some reflection from every angle, which makes it more appropriate than the original pigment for use as a vehicle paint finish, according to BMW.
The effect is striking, highlighting features such as the car’s lights and grille, and giving it a brooding, imposing presence.
Hussein al-Attar, who designed the new X6, says Vantablack VBx2 opens new possibilities for designers.
“We often prefer to talk about silhouettes and proportions rather than surfaces and lines,” he said in a statement.
“The Vantablack VBx2 coating foregrounds these fundamental aspects of automotive design, without any distraction from light and reflections.”
Originally invented by Britain’s Surrey NanoSystems in 2014, Vantablack was developed as a coating for components that would be sent to space to enable observation of distant galaxies and faint stars.
Ben Jensen, who founded Surrey NanoSystems and invented Vantablack, said he had rejected previous approaches from automakers interested in using the material, but the X6 felt like a good fit.
“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,” Jensen said in a statement.
Jensen said the finish is unlikely to be used for production vehicles any time soon.
“Developing a Vantablack VBx2 car paint durable enough for daily use is a huge technological challenge,” he said.
However the material is increasingly being used in sensor equipment for autonomous vehicles, reducing sunlight damage and allowing performance, and safety, to be maintained, according to Jensen.
The BMW Vantablack X6 will be on show at the Frankfurt Motor Show September 12-22, and the third-generation X6 will arrive in showrooms in November.