Art and cars have a long tradition at BMW. Since 1975, many renowned artists have designed a so-called "Art Car", including Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. In 1991, Esther Mahlangu - the first woman and first African artist - designed the 12th BMW Art Car based on a BMW 525i. 

The BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA is a reminder of this, a kind of bridge from the E34 5 Series to the latest generation. The vehicle combines the technology of changing colours developed by BMW with the artistic language of the South African artist. Equipped with electrically animated foil segments, the designer piece embodies the latest development stage of the colour-changing technology for vehicle surfaces created in cooperation with E Ink.

Gallery: BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA (2024)

According to BMW, the characteristic colours and geometric patterns of the now 88-year-old Malangu are ideal for transferring the innovative flow technology to the i5. The versatility of the electrophoretic colour changes turns the all-electric saloon into a dynamic work of art. " It fascinates me to see how modern technology expands my art and makes it accessible to a completely new audience," says Esther Mahlangu.

On the BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA, which takes its name from Esther Mahlangu's first son, the animated film segments extend in two strips each over the roof, bonnet and rear as well as over the sides of the vehicle. Similar to an e-book reader, each E Ink film contains several million microcapsules.

The colour particles they contain can be changed in their structure and arrangement by electrical voltage. This allows the colours and patterns typical of Esther Mahlangu's art to be displayed in ever-changing compositions.

BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA (2024)

The BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA (2024) and the 525i Art Car by Esther Mahlangu from 1991

The BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA is equipped with 1,349 film segments, each of which can be controlled individually, in order to display the complex ornamentation in true detail. The laser cutting process used to cut the film and the electronic control design were developed together with partner E Ink. The adaptation to curved surfaces and the programmed animations were developed in-house by the BMW Group.

Overall, colour change technology is developing rapidly. The BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink, which was presented in 2022 with its button-triggered change between white and black, was followed just one year later by the first multicolour implementation. Up to 32 colours could be displayed on the 240 film segments of the BMW i Vision Dee.

The latest development stage now enables even more colours and patterns. At the same time, the film segments are more robust, which facilitates potential future series production. For the time being, however, the BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA remains a one-off.