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Nissan Testing Self-Cleaning Paint


1.How does it work?
Photo credit: Rian Castillo / Flickr

If you can’t help but sigh and grumble under your breath when it comes time to wash the car, you can breathe a sigh of relief. It’s possible your days of “wax on, wax off” could be coming to anend.

The New York Times has reported that Nissan, a Japanese car manufacturer, is testing the European version of its Versa Note that has been coated in a paint called Ultra-Ever Dry, which has been designed to keep the car clean without the help of your bucket and sponge. Nissan has dubbed the Note the world’s very first self-cleaning car.

According to Detroit News, the International Carwash Association reported that 97% of Americans take their car to the wash at least once a year. The industry generates $32 billion in annual revenue and employs more than 130,000 people. Could this new nano-paint technology spell trouble for the carwash industry?

How does it work?

According to Autoweek, Ultra-Ever Dry employs the use of nanotechnology to create a hydrophobic, oleophobic paint coating, meaning it repels water and oil. The National Nanotechnology Initiative explains nanotechnology as involving the “ability to see and control individual atoms and molecules.”

So, according to Nissan, these atoms and molecules create a protective layer of air between the car’s paint and the harsh elements such that water and road spray slide right off of the car’s surface rather than leaving dirty marks behind.
Ultra-Ever Dry is an exciting breakthrough in nanotechnology, to be sure, but Wired Magazine has pointed out that water and oil repelling coatings aren’t exactly a new idea. Rustoleum’s NeverWet spray was invented to keep virtually anything dry from most liquids, and Apple has been using an oleophobic coating on the iPhone to reduce unsightly fingerprints on its screen.

Is it effective?

In Nissan’s promotional video, the Note is taken on a joy ride through mud, dirt, and murky rain water and it appears that everything that splashes onto the car’s surface slides right off. The company reported that the paint has been responding well to typical use cases, including sleet, frost, rain, spray, and standing water.

However, one can’t help but be skeptical about how long this wonder paint can hold up against even normal wear and tear. Rustoleum’s NeverWet spray uses the same technology to achieve its hydrophobic properties, and reviews of that product’s effectiveness are more widely available than Nissan’s Ultra-Ever Dry paint.

Good Housekeeping reported that, while NeverWet more or less held up to its promises to begin with, the coating didn’t last very long against typical wear and tear. When the spray started losing its effect, the top coat needed to be sanded off and reapplied. Hopefully, Nissan and Ultra-Ever Dry have found a way around this sort of thing. Taking a car to the car wash every now and then seems a lot more appealing than taking it into the shop a few times a year to get a good sanding and a fresh coat of paint.

Will it be applied to all Nissan cars?

Car washes won’t have to worry about going out of business just yet, at least not in the states. According to the Washington Post, Nissan Europe has been the only company to test the paint so far, and there haven’t been any definite plans to bring it across the pond or even make it a standard option for their cars.

However, Nissan said that, if all goes well, they would definitely consider using the coating technology as an aftermarket option sometime in the future.

“The Nissan Note has been carefully engineered to take the stress out of customer driving, and Nissan’s engineers are constantly thinking of new ways to make families’ lives easier,” said Geraldine Ingham, Chief Marketing Manager for Nissan Note. “We are committed to addressing everyday problems our customers face and will always consider testing exciting, cutting edge technology like this incredible coating application.”

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