Making its world debut at the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival, THE ICON, a collaboration between BMW and TYDE, was in town to unveil the first battery-powered vessel of its kind for emission-free travel.
Measuring 43.1ft (13.1m), with a top speed of 30 knots, THE ICON follows lengthy R&D with BMW the driving force behind the project. The design was completed by Designworks, a BMW Group subsidiary, while the development and realization of THE ICON was brought to fruition through boat maker, TYDE. The electric drive system sources its energy from high-voltage batteries supplied by BMW, with an exclusive soundtrack composed by award-winning film composer Hans Zimmer, who also provided input on the Dolby Atmos system.
Innovative Concepts Driving Sustainability
Looking to create more longevity in travel on both the road and now the water, the team has pooled technological expertise from various fields to create THE ICON. As the photos will attest, the design and form of THE ICON also offers a refreshing look while significantly reducing the environmental impact of the boat.
Drawing on innovations from yacht racing, THE ICON utilizes hydrofoils to reduce energy requirements by up to 80 percent, compared to a conventional yacht hull, while using a battery-electric drive system. Until now, this marine electricity mobility has been restricted to smaller, slower craft with much less range. THE ICON seeks to bridge the gap between those who want to go further, faster, while also decreasing reliance on combustion engines. The foiling technology has the vessel riding on wing structures below the water level, while the hull floats above the surface of the water which provides a more comfortable ride while increasing speed capabilities.
The energy is supplied by a pair of 100 kW electric motors that convert the 240 kWh of energy supplied by six batteries from the BMW i3, creating a range of more than 50 nautical miles. THE ICON features a running speed of 24 knots, with a top speed of 30 knots, but thanks to the foiling technology, it creates minimal noise and vibrations above the waves.
An Eye on the Design
The unique prism-like form features a width of 14.9ft off the stern, creating a spacious entrance into the bright and airy lounge inside. Replacing the conventional side sections of a boat with large wrap-around glass surfaces allows natural light to flood in from all angles so guests never need to miss a view while seated inside. Meanwhile, 360° rotating seats allow easy access to a tablet-based infotainment system within easy reach, or to be turned to speak with fellow guests, creating a more cohesive social area.
The navigation area has been simplified, borrowing from the authentic BMW sleek interface to create a less cluttered control area.
The 32-inch touchscreen display with 6k resolution provides the look and feel of the BMW iDrive control/operation system. As the team notes, “Teaming up with BMW Operating System 8, this unlocks a new dimension in information visualization and digital interaction. Key functions such as range information and weather reports can be called up using voice commands.”
THE ICON is a fully production-ready example of what is possible for the future of electric powered boats and yachts.
The BMW team further shares, “It is focused on modern, urban lifestyles and can be used as a means of marine transport both by luxury-conscious private customers and in the commercial sector. The craft produced on the basis of THE ICON will accelerate the cause of emission-free luxury mobility on water and open up a whole new segment. Their mission will be to inspire CO2-free water-bound mobility – without polluting the environment, without any noise, but with comfort turned up to the max.”
The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 16 – May 27th this year, with THE ICON on display at the Vieux Port for the duration of the festival.