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Innovative paintwork will play a key role in the future of electromobility at Audi. Thanks to game-changing reflective pigments.

01/29/2021 Copy: Birte Mußmann – Photo: Robert Fischer Reading Time: 2 min

Solar Sky exterior paintwork
Together with metallic, ceramic or pearl particles, pigments not only affect how we perceive surfaces but can also provide functional benefits.

Along with aerodynamics and tire characteristics, among other things, paintwork could be another decisive factor in improving the range of electrically powered Audi vehicles. To understand just how that works, look no further than the paintwork on the Audi Q4 e-tron concept 1. The Color & Trim designers at Audi chose a very special coating for the concept car’s body. Dubbed Solar Sky, the shade was developed in collaboration with BASF Coatings.

Side view of the Audi Q4 e-tron concept
The Audi Q4 e-tron concept¹ in light blue metallic (Solar Sky). Depending on the incidence of light, the blue tone changes. Dark color contrasts in the sill area between the axles, where the battery is located, emphasize the concept car’s affiliation with the brand’s purely electrically powered models. The rear diffuser, front mask and the rims with their dark coloring also contribute to this.

Pigments reflect a portion of the sun’s rays

The exterior paintwork can ensure that, even when the mercury rises, the interior doesn’t get too hot. This is possible thanks to special pigments capable of reflecting shortwave radiation within the sun’s infrared spectrum. Infrared radiation comprises about 50 percent of the sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface. Most materials absorb these rays, converting them into thermal energy and heating up the object. Unlike the visible spectrum, infrared light—or thermal radiation—comprises lightwaves that we humans cannot see. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t aware of them. For us, the effects of these rays—the way they heat up a car’s body and other objects—are their key feature. It’s precisely this effect that the special paintwork diminishes.

Solar Sky exterior paintwork
The metallic shade of light blue evokes clean air. Thanks to the reflective pigments responsible for the sapphire blue crystal effect, the top coat does its job well.

Since the car’s body does not heat up as much, the interior tends to be cooler. As a result, drivers and passengers can choose to keep the use of air conditioning to a minimum. It comes down to a very simple yet highly efficient equation: Because cooling technology is consuming less power, the energy saved can instead be used by other systems. When this “freed-up” energy is redirected to the car’s electric drive, the effect of the paintwork’s pigments in conjunction with limited use of the air conditioner provides not only a pleasantly cool interior but also a greater range from a single battery charge.

The future of innovative paintwork at Audi

What’s more, the innovative paint offers a glimpse of tomorrow’s electric mobility at Audi: That’s because the exterior paintwork on the Audi Q4 e-tron concept 1 is a foretaste of the Four Rings’ future color palette for forthcoming all-electric production models. So car buyers can look forward to more colors to choose from. Going forward, the special Audi exterior paintwork could not only serve as an innovative means of cooling down all-electric models’ interiors when the weather is hot but also broaden the scope for customization.

Keeping the circular economy turning

Innovation and sustainability are also a top priority in the choice of floor mats in the interior of the Audi Q4 e-tron concept 1. They are made from a special yarn called Econyl that is manufactured from recycled textiles and discarded fishing nets recovered from the ocean. In this way, precious non-renewable resources are reused to produce the yarn. The result is a closed loop—the nylon used in the floor mats can be recycled again and again without loss of quality.

Audi e-tron and e-tron Sportback while driving.

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Audi e-tron: Power consumption, combined*: 24.3–21.4 kWh/100km (NEDC); 26.1–21.7 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi e-tron Sportback: Power consumption, combined*: 24–20.9 kWh/100km (NEDC); 25.9–21.1 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi e-tron: Power consumption, combined*: 24.3–21.4 kWh/100km (NEDC); 26.1–21.7 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

Audi e-tron Sportback: Power consumption, combined*: 24–20.9 kWh/100km (NEDC); 25.9–21.1 kWh/100km (WLTP)CO₂ emissions, combined*: 0 g/km

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