Are colour changing vehicles the future?

posted in: General News, Technology

You can have any colour as longs as it’s… actually, you can have any colour.

Colour Changing Car

Last month, we ran an article about our rental vans (and all vans, for that matter) asking why so many of them are white. You can read it here.

But there’s one additional reason we missed – a reason that applies equally to cars and vans. Once a vehicle has been painted a certain colour, if you later change your mind, it can be rather pricey to respray it.

But what if changing the colour of your van was as simple as changing the oil?

Hire car chameleons?

Scientists at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have developed a new ‘programmable’ ink which changes colour when exposed to UV light. First, the object to be coloured is saturated in a solution of standard colour pigments (the magenta, yellow and cyan you’ll find in any colour printer cartridge). The item is then placed in a box where it is exposed to natural light and projected light at specific wavelengths. The wavelength determines the colour. So a blue light will be absorbed by only some of the dyes, resulting in a blue car.

When you’re ready to change the car’s colour, you place it back under cover, blast it with UV light, then start again. To date, they’ve been trialling the tech on objects rather smaller than vehicles – such as footwear and model cars, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t be scaled up. And it’s possible to develop patterns as well as solid colours.

The rental vehicle of the future?

It might be unlikely that you’d choose a colour changing van for a short term vehicle rental. But a mid- to long-term flexible car lease could be made all the more flexible by enabling you to choose the colour of your vehicle. And at the end of the lease it could be recoloured for the next customer.

You might, however, have detected a slight issue with the technology. If UV light erases the colour, wouldn’t exposure to sunlight wipe the colour from your car? Currently, the answer appears to be ‘yes’. There’s also work to be done on making the inks more environmentally friendly.

The developers are working to overcome the above challenges. If they can, the future of road vehicles could be an awful lot more colourful.

We can’t promise colour changing hire vehicles right now, but we can promise a great deal. Find yours here.

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