BMW

Australian Stella Clarke, South African artist Esther Mahlangu create new BMW Art Car

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Paying homage to the 1991 BMW 5 Series (E34) Art Car, the new electric BMW i5 Art Car combines traditional African designs with ground-breaking technology.


BMW has unveiled its latest Art Car: an electric i5 using dynamic colour-changing technology.

The technology – invented and developed by Australian BMW engineer Stella Clarke – has been used to recreate the patterns of South African artist Esther Mahlangu, who designed the 12th BMW Art Car in 1991.

The BMW i5 Flow Nostokana Art Car pays tribute to the E34 5 Series Art Car of 1991, combining ground-breaking technology with the signature geometric designs created by the now 88-year-old artist.

“Her art inspired me years ago, back when the concept of colour change on a car was just an idea in my head,” said Stella Clarke, who is the Research Engineer Open Innovations at the BMW Group.

“Now, being able to realise this idea, and work with Esther Mahlangu, is absolutely surreal.”

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In a video posted by BMW, Ms Clarke travels to South Africa to present Ms Mahlangu with an example of the colour-changing film.

“It is fascinating to me to see how modern technology can expand my art and make it accessible to a completely new audience,” Ms Mahlangu said.

The BMW i5 Flow Nostokana – named after Ms Mahlangu’s first son – has been fitted with 1349 sections of laser-cut film, which can be individually controlled.

Ms Clarke first presented the colour-flipping technology – which works in a similar way to liquid crystal displays (LCDs) or electronic paper – on the BMW iX Flow concept in early 2022, with the SUV showing off its ability to change from white to black.

Just 12 months later, BMW presented the i Vision Dee – previewing the future ‘Neue Klasse’ electric 3 Series sedan – which could change between 32 different colours.

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Ben Zachariah is an experienced writer and motoring journalist from Melbourne, having worked in the automotive industry for more than two decades. Ben began writing professionally more than 15 years ago and was previously an interstate truck driver. He completed his MBA in Finance in early 2021 and is considered an expert on classic car investment.

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