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01 Apr 2009 | Local News : Singapore

MIN I Chameleon makes Asian debut in Singapore; car changes colour based on weather conditions

MINI's first colour-morphing car will make its Asian debut in Singapore in June. Called the MINI Chameleon, the car's paint reacts to ambient temperatures and moisture and changes shades accordingly.

The car's colour would, for instance, brighten on a rainy day to improve visibility and enhance driver's safety, while on a sunny day, it would lighten to reflect heat, keeping drivers cool. Given its heat sensitivity, colour changes could also warn of overheating engines. And this is all in addition to providing the striking image of a colour-morphing car on the road, even if it might make it a little harder to spot your car in a carpark if the weather changes.

Making the MINI Chameleon possible is a recent breakthrough by Spanish-registered paint and additives company, Payola Forlids. A similar liquid crystal based temperature sensitive paint is already used in mood rings, t-shirts and on toy cars, but the company had to work around challenges presented specifically posed by actual automobiles. The car's colour had to morph evenly, despite the car's angles and curves, and the paint also needs to be able to weather the elements. The result: FeintPaint.

Treatment of the car involves FeintPaint, a special polymer applied to a galvanized piece of automotive sheet metal with super-paramagnetic iron oxide particles embedded within it. The particles are controlled using a low grade magnetic field which affects the spacing of the crystals, controlling their ability to reflect light and change colour. The surface is then coated with a UV-protective coat.

There have been attempts by other companies to apply thermo-chromatic paint technology to cars and create colour-changing capabilities, but the MINI Chameleon will be the first of its kind to hit Singapore roads.

"One of MINI's distinctive characteristics has always been the colours we have put out, and having a car with colour-changing capabilities gives that a whole new dimension. We've received a lot of requests pertaining to colour customization and this is about as far as one can go, so we expect the MINI Chameleon to be very well-received," said BMW Asia's marketing director, Ramesh Divyanathan.

Said Payola Forlids spokesman, Phul Sanchez, "The MINI Chameleon was the perfect car for us to showcase FeintPaint. Colour changes take just seconds and it's amazing to watch, though one hopes the MINI Chameleon won't distract other drivers on the road! We are thrilled to have perfected it for MINI."

Next up for the company, he also revealed, are tweaks to the paint for military vehicles, so that they can camouflage for morphs, depending on the time of day and its surroundings.

The MINI Chameleon will be in the MINI Habitat showroom on June 30th 2009.

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