This September at the Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW will debut a 2020 X6 so black it almost looks two dimensional. Coated in Vantablack, the X6’s three-dimensionality seems to disappear. The duck-tailed rear liftgate, curvaceous side paneling, and rippled hood are practically indistinguishable in a black so dark, it’s like looking into a black hole.


2020 BMW X6 Vantablack®


How is this possible?


Vantablack was developed by Surrey NanoSystems and is the darkest man-made substance in the world. VANTA stands for Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array, and it's essentially a matrix made from microscopic bits of carbon. Rather than reflecting light as normal automotive finishes do, it absorbs all but 0.035% of the light that hits it, which, to the human eye, causes objects coated in the dark paint to lose their defining features. It was invented back in 2014 to coat space-borne components, so they could absorb light and turn it into heat to resist very cold temperatures. It is also used to block out light from the sun in order for deep-space camera lenses to get a better glimpse at faraway stars and galaxies.


The X6 is not coated in the original Vantablack but in a new paint finish known as VBx2. This slightly less absorbent variant of the blackest black paint practically erases the shape of the car, with only the tires, grill, and windows to serve as visual cues as to its true shape. Even in high-quality photos, the 2020 BMW X6 Vantablack appears two-dimensional, making details like laser headlamps, light-up kidney grilles, and LED tail-lamps more dramatic as they seem to float in space.


2020 BMW X6 Vantablack®


When will it be released?


Unfortunately for any fans of black cars, BMW hasn't announced plans to offer Vantablack as an option for consumers. According to Ben Jensen, the founder and chief technical officer of NanoSystems, the blackest black paint isn’t durable enough for everyday use, which probably a good thing when you consider what a challenge driving the vehicle at night on public roads would be. The Vantablack material could serve other purposes in the future of BMW development, but that remains to be seen.

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