The 76th Cannes Film Festival is underway, but one particularly spectacular world premiere on the bill will be experienced in the port area of the southern French town rather than on a cinema screen. This is where the BMW brand and boat maker TYDE are presenting THE ICON, a new kind of flagbearer for sustainable mobility on water. THE ICON is the first battery-powered marine craft of its kind and brings together locally emission-free travel with a vision of luxury that embraces pleasure.
At 13.15 metres in length and with a top speed of 30 knots, THE ICON is a trailblazer for a new breed of watercraft with battery-electric drive. BMW came up with the idea and developed the concept for this pioneering collaborative endeavour. The innovative project is the result of an in-depth sharing of knowledge between experts from myriad branches of mobility, with the BMW team at the helm. Responsible for the design of THE ICON are the creatives at innovation hub Designworks, a BMW Group subsidiary with studios in Los Angeles, Munich and Shanghai. The development and realisation of the concept was entrusted to boat maker TYDE. And the powerful electric drive system sources its energy from high-voltage batteries supplied by BMW i. The marine travel experience created through this confluence of talents is accompanied by an exclusive soundtrack composed by award-winning film score luminary Hans Zimmer.
As the pioneering force behind THE ICON, BMW is once again demonstrating a holistic commitment to sustainable mobility that encompasses not only road transportation but also travel on water. Pooling technological expertise from various fields creates ground-breaking solutions that have people at their heart.
THE ICON also encapsulates a future-facing form of luxury. The innovative craft appeals with its unique design, and it also offers passengers a totally new experience of mobility. Here, amid an exclusive on-board ambience, exquisite comfort converges with a significantly reduced environmental impact.
THE ICON uses a battery-electric drive system to set new standards in its sector in various ways. Up to now, marine electric mobility has been restricted to smaller, slower craft with comparatively little range. And the segment for faster boats with longer range is dominated by models with combustion engines. THE ICON redefines this relationship between the dimensions, top speed and range of an electrically powered watercraft.
Making this possible is an innovation from yacht racing: hydrofoils. These reduce the energy requirement by up to 80 per cent compared with a conventional hull. The foiling technology – whereby the craft rides on wing structures below the water level, while the hull floats above the surface of the water – also provides a higher level of travelling comfort and higher speeds.
A pair of 100 kW electric motors convert the 240 kWh of energy supplied by six batteries from the BMW i3 into an eye-catching range of more than 50 nautical miles (approx. 100 km). The craft can deliver an operating speed of 24 knots, while its maximum speed is 30 knots (55 km/h). Spurred on by its innovative drive system and foiling technology, THE ICON makes almost silent progress, without vibrations or shocks and without sending out waves.
Ensuring a similarly impressive on-board soundscape, meanwhile, is the Dolby Atmos system, with its ability to deliver superb audio quality. When it came to developing the sound concept – comprising the drive system note and pleasant, intuitive function tones – for the job at hand, BMW turned to double Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer. The revolutionary acoustic creations conjured by the Hollywood composer soundtrack a new era in the enjoyment of sustainable travel on water.
The design team had the task of translating the unique concept of THE ICON into an iconic experience – from its initial visual impact from the outside to the view out from the inside. The body of the watercraft, which is made up of a very flat hull and a central support element for the transparent architecture, is shaped by a technically precise design language. The basic outline, with its prism-like form, enables a width of 4.5 metres in the rear section. This creates a very spacious entrance into the luxurious lounge. The hull itself stands out with its origami lightweight structure. With the foiling technology enabling a particularly smooth traveling experience, the designers took the opportunity to replace the conventional side sections of a watercraft with large glass surfaces. Passengers therefore enjoy an extraordinary view while they glide above the water. Modern LED light strips at the bow and stern, and on the charging connection points feed into the iconic effect of THE ICON.
THE ICON: a social meeting place that’s at home in any port.
Angled glass doors provide access to a lounge area which, with its artistically designed furniture on a luxurious carpet, brings to mind a kaleidoscope. Every piece is formed from sections of metal sheeting whose granular surface structure reflects the sunlight onto the floor like waves on the sea.
The 360° rotating seats are at the core of a user-focused experience, with all essential features – including a tablet-based infotainment system – arranged within reach. With a simple twist, the seats can be re-positioned to facilitate social interaction. This creates a fine meeting hub that will feel at home in any port or harbour.
The craft’s command station is located centrally on the deck and represents a compelling proposition with its ship’s wheel and instruments in authentic BMW design. Taking the place of the traditional array of nautical instruments is a fresh interpretation of the BMW interface containing all important functions within a digital control unit. The intersection between human and machine comes in the form of a 32-inch touchscreen display with 6k resolution and the look and feel of the BMW iDrive control/operation system. Teaming up with BMW Operating System 8, this unlocks a new dimension in information visualisation and digital interaction. Key functions such as range information and weather reports can be called up using voice commands.
The watercraft revealed in Cannes for the first time is not a design study or a concept, but instead a fully production-ready example of its kind boasting pioneering technology. THE ICON is underpinned by a platform concept offering comprehensive adaptability to individual wishes and needs in terms of both the emotional experience and interior design. 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 ICON impresses with a powerful drive system that creates neither noise nor emissions. Foiling technology allows it to reach high speeds without generating waves or dragging out a wake behind it. Indeed, the only things THE ICON leaves behind during every journey are pleasure and joy.