BMW has confirmed that they will premiere the third-gen X6 at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show next month, and will present the SUV painted in Vantablack. Followers of our Top Gear Malaysia Facebook fanpage may remember it – we talked about it just under a year ago (see below) – ironically saying how we’d rather not see it applied on a motor vehicle.
The reason being is that Vantablack reflects almost no light, so a vehicle’s details and curves will look pretty much flat. This could be confusing to other motorists who cannot register it as being another vehicle, thus being a danger.
Good thing, then, that the X6 in Vantablack is just a one-off. It’s a new paint too called Vantablack VBx2 which Surrey NanoSystems, the company which created it, said was originally developed for architectural and scientific applications. In fact, VBx2 is slightly more reflective than Vantablack and allows for a small amount of reflection to come off it. Hmm, I don’t really see it though…
In any case, Ben Jensen, founder and chief technical officer of Surrey NanoSystems said, “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.”
He also said that Vantablack as a regular paint finish is not yet possible. “Developing a Vantablack VBx2 car paint durable enough for daily use is a huge technological challenge.” Having said, the material is already in use in the industry, including in laser-based sensors due to its ability to eliminate incident sunlight which can cause degradation of performance.
It’s different from a designer’s standpoint however. The designer responsible for the X6, Hussein Al Attar said that it is absolutely perfect for a regular paint finish as it complements the personality of some buyers. The X6, he reckons, is bought by some of their most extrovert and free-spirited customers. Also, it can truly underline a vehicle’s silhouette and proportion without being distracted by light and reflections.
The third-generation BMW X6 will appear in showrooms in some markets beginning November 2019 after the Frankfurt Motor Show premiere. The vehicle will be assembled at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, USA, as with the previous X6 models.