Quick Change: Toyota developing colour-changing paint technology using heat and light

Toronto, Ontario — Toyota has filed a patent application for colour-changing paint, a technology that the automaker reports could let owners or dealerships quickly swap a vehicle’s style.

The patent application was published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on March 19th and describes how the technology could be beneficial for owners who want to change the colour of their vehicle to keep up with trends, or for dealerships that want to make cars easier to sell.

Instead of using a complex repaint or vinyl wrap, Toyota claims to have developed paint that can be altered in reaction to heat and light.

The patent specifically describes how a car would be driven into a garage bay with tunnel-like heating elements that would surround it on all sides. As the paint surface is heated, a light-emitting colour moderator device would be passed over the paint surface to complete the transformation.

The colour modulator, which could be controlled by either a human operator or a robot, would communicate with a remote server as well as temperature sensors embedded in the vehicle’s bodywork to determine the correct settings for a specific colour.

Toyota admits that it isn’t the first automaker to experiment with colour-changing paint. BMW has demonstrated something similar at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2022 on its ix electric SUV.

However, Toyota’s version is different from BMW’s as it doesn’t rely on an exterior wrap. Whether or not this makes it anymore likely to reach the manufacturing stage remains to be seen.

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