This year’s Frankfurt Motor Show will be the backdrop for the unveiling of the first and only vehicle in the world to feature a Vantablack VBx2 coating in a collaboration between BMW, Surrey Nano Systems and creative agency Levitation 29. The showcasing of the car, known as the BMW VBX6, will coincide with the world premiere of the a third-generation BMW X6 Sports Utility Coupé.
Vantablack coatings are the blackest in the world, absorbing more than 99% of visible light and almost completely removing all reflections. In a playful and cutting-edge take on the tradition of concealing key design features by keeping cars under cloth or covering them with decals, BMW celebrates the launch of the iconic X6 by showcasing a Vantablack version.
A surface coated with a Vantablack VBx2 coating loses its defining features to the human eye, with objects appearing two- dimensional. This can be interpreted by the brain as staring into a hole or even a void. Therefore, coating the BMW X6 has the effect of hiding some of the trademark curves and accentuating other design features such as the optional Iconic Glow kidney grille, distinctive twin headlights and striking taillights.
The new BMW X6 is the first and only vehicle in the world to feature a Vantablack VBx2 paint finish. The design of the BMW X6 provides fascinating contrasts to offset the Vantablack VBx2, which visually alters the viewers perception of the car’s three-dimensional nature.
Exclusive rights to the original Vantablack pigment are controversially owned by artist Anish Kapoor, but the VBx2 coating is a slightly different material, with pigment suspended in a carrier solution that allows it to be sprayed onto larger areas.
“We realised that it wouldn’t have worked if we’d put on the original Vantablack material, as the viewer would have lost all sense of three-dimensionality,” said Ben Jensen, Vantablack inventor and founder of Surrey NanoSystems.
“It worked really well because of the size of the car, its distinctive shape, and how imposing it is,” he continued. “VBx2 with its one-per-cent reflectance provides just enough of a hint of shape.”
“But putting a paint like that on a conventional car lacking a distinctive design would probably detract from it in some way,” said Jensen.
According to its creators, the project was conceived as a “playful” yet “cutting-edge” take on the tradition of concealing key design features by keeping cars under cloth.
“Internally, we often refer to the BMW X6 as ‘The Beast’,” said Hussein Al Attar, designer of the BMW X6. “The Vantablack VBx2 finish emphasises this aspect and makes it look particularly menacing.”
“We often prefer to talk about silhouettes and proportions rather than surfaces and lines,” he added. “The Vantablack VBx2 coating foregrounds these fundamental aspects of automotive design, without any distraction from light and reflections.”
Known as the BMW VBX6, the Vantablack vehicle will make its debut at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, which will be taking place in the German city from 12 to 22 September 2019.