THE 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 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 celebrate 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. Ben Jensen, Vantablack inventor and founder of Surrey Nano Systems, said “VBx2 with its one-per-cent reflectance provides just enough of a hint of shape”. The spectacular one-off vehicle highlights the expressive and precise design language and confident, dominant and muscular appearance of the new BMW X6 to perfection. Asked whether he was pleased with the final car, Ben Jensen commented; “I think it went beyond all our expectations because of the size of the car, its distinctive shape and how imposing it is”.
The BMW VBX6 marks the latest in a string of high profile collaborations between Surrey NanoSystems, the inventors of Vantablack coatings, and Levitation 29 the technical and creative agency behind the project. Since they started working together in 2018 Surrey NanoSystems and Levitation 29 have produced a number of high-profile world firsts from a blackout house for Activision’s Call of Duty to a 40ft high Vantablack monolith at Coachella music festival for the Techno DJ and Producer Gesaffelstein. The VBX6 collaboration with BMW however will hold a special place with fans of Vantablack. Benjamin Males from Levitation 29 says; “we get contacted by a lot of people wanting to use Vantablack in their projects - the idea of total blackness is something that really captures the imagination. We have lost count of the number of times people have asked us to coat a car in Vantablack, so It’s great to finally be making it a reality with BMW”.
The concept of the first Vantablack BMW was devised by Christophe Koenig, Spokesperson for the BMW X models. He first proposed the idea back in 2018 and it took over 10 months to come to fruition. “My thoughts of having a Vantablack BMW gets back to the preparation of the BMW X2 launch. Back to the days we wanted to have a kind of stealth painting, but we couldn’t make it happen. Therefore, I’m very excited we were able to do on a bigger car, which makes the effect even more stunning”. During the development process the Levitation 29 team met with Hussein Al Attar, the designer of the X6 who helped to describe the DNA at the core of design of the car. Hussein said; Internally, we often refer to the BMW X6 as “The Beast.” I think that says it all. The Vantablack VBx2 finish emphasises this aspect and makes the BMW X6 look particularly menacing. Moreover, the BMW X6 has always been the most provocative and in-your-face model in our portfolio. So why not emphasise this even further, with a finish that simply captivates the viewer’s attention? After all, that’s what the BMW X6 has always been about. Vantablack VBx2 opens up new possibilities for us as designers. We often prefer to talk about silhouettes and proportions rather than surfaces and lines. The Vantablack VBx2 coating foregrounds these fundamental aspects of automotive design, without any distraction from light and reflections”.
Benjamin Males from Levitation 29 said; “we really can’t wait to see where this collaboration with BMW and Surrey NanoSystems will take us next. The first Vantablack car is certainly a big tick in the box when it comes to dream projects and opens the way for even more large-scale concepts- like a stadium! To create the effect of infinite darkness on that scale would truly be spectacular.”