BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA Is A Nod To The E34 5 Series Art Car

The spirit of the 12th BMW Art Car is alive and well in this unique i5. The electric sedan echoes the 525i E34 designed by Esther Mahlangu in 1991 when she became the first woman and African artist to work on an official BMW Art Car. Like the i Vision Dee concept, the one-of-a-kind car benefits from color-changing E Ink. It’s a technology we originally saw on the iX Flow where the SUV could play with shades of white, grey, and black.

Celebrating its world premiere today at the Frieze Los Angeles art fair, the BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA gets its name after Mahlangu’s first son. Two strips are running along the hood, roof, sides, and rear – containing several million microcapsules in each E Ink film. As with the i Vision Dee we mentioned earlier, these strips are electronically animated by applying an electric voltage to change the structure of the color particles.

BMW Art Cars

This setup gives the i5 an animated exterior thanks to no fewer than 1,349 sections of individually controllable film. A laser was used to cut the film to the exact dimensions, a process that must’ve been particularly tricky on the sedan’s curved surfaces. Even though the Dee concept is only a year old, the technology behind the color-changing body has already progressed. Dee could show up to 32 colors but there are even more shades available now.

Not only that, but BMW says the E Ink film is now sturdier, suggesting this upgrade increases the chances of putting it into series production. However, the technology remains exclusive to these concept cars for the time being. The i5 Flow NOSTOKANA’s special look is complemented by a unique sound created by Renzo Vitale, acoustic engineer and sound designer at the BMW Group.

As for the source of inspiration, the #12 BMW Art Car has returned this month to South Africa for the first time in more than 30 years. BMW is also putting the finishing touches on what will be its #20 Art Car. Penned by Julie Mehretu, the M Hybrid V8 endurance racer is going to break cover on May 21.


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