Why does BMW camouflage their test vehicles with a vinyl wrap?
Carmakers are constantly developing and testing new vehicles, BMW is no exception. In order to keep their upcoming design changes hidden from the public as much as possible, it is common for BMW to use vinyl wraps to hide the true shape of the test vehicle. This will keep a competitive advantage over other car makers stealing BMW’s new design features as well as keeping the design hidden until the official unveiling which will have a greater impact on consumers if the design is kept as secret as possible.
It is not uncommon to see early “spy” photos of BMW’s development vehicles in the real world. These spy photos are typically of BMW vehicles wearing a black and white vinyl camouflage wrap. This wrap is not intended to make the vehicle blend into the surrounding environment. However, its true purpose is to try and trick the autofocus of cameras that may take pictures of it.
Busy designs make it harder for cameras to autofocus.
The autofocus software found on digital cameras use color and or SONAR to help focus the lens. With a black and white vinyl wrap this makes it harder since black absorbs infrared light. Furthermore, the busy design combined with a poorly focused photo will result in a what appears to be a low resolution image. This is perfect for hiding the design features of the test vehicle.
Not only does the busy design trick cameras, they also trick the human eye. The human eye is preoccupied trying to quickly process the busy pattern to discern the true design behind it. This is even more difficult for the human eye as the test vehicle drives by.
Vinyl wrap reduces weight and aerodynamic drag compared to alternatives.
Rather than attaching large, plastic panels to the body of the vehicle to hide the design, vinyl wrap is a light weight alternative which does not add aerodynamic drag. This benefits car testing for fuel economy, wind noise, top speed, acceleration and more. Adding plastic panels may also block intakes for engine or brake cooling. It is not uncommon for BMW to test vehicles with plastic panels on them during the very early stages of development. As the vehicle nears production, the plastic panels shed and the vinyl wrap replaces them.
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