In an innovative collaboration of design and technology, BMW Group Designworks, German boat builder TYDE, and Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer have partnered to create a striking vessel – The Icon. This electric hydrofoil, debuting on the waters adjacent to the 76th Cannes Film Festival, is more of a maverick than an icon, defying design conventions even within the emerging sphere of electric hydrofoils.
Powered by BMW i batteries, the Icon’s trio of hydrofoils facilitates quiet, efficient, and swift cruising over a distance of up to 50 nautical miles (93 km). Its broad, multifaceted windows allow for exceptional visibility. Despite being a vessel, the Icon has a distinct resemblance to a dramatic architectural structure with inspirations drawn from aircraft design.
The hydrofoil’s unique design features an oversized, prism-like glasshouse wedged between a plinth-like hull and a wing-like roof sporting a distinctive green shade. The design’s near symmetry, emphasized by the tall stern fin and similarly angled creased bow, is disrupted by an eccentric lack of symmetry in between. This arresting styling offers more than just a visual spectacle – it sets the stage for a singular onboard experience.
The Icon’s windows promise unparalleled views, with the lower panels complementing the foiling system’s high ride. The broadening triangular form from bow to stern paves way to a 14.7-ft-wide (4.5-m) entrance to the aft lounge, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass.
The aft salon mirrors the vessel’s avant-garde character, boasting angular furniture with reflective bases that scatter the natural light entering through the windows onto the carpet, creating a mesmerizing kaleidoscopic effect. The seats rotate 360 degrees, promoting socialization and flexibility in viewing angle.
The furniture arrangement adheres to the vessel’s triangular form, with a lavishly appointed salon leading to a dramatic single-seat command station and a small fore lounge. Despite the large, solid crease located directly in front of the captain’s chair, the angled full-height windows port and starboard ensure ample visibility.
BMW’s automotive influence is evident at the helm, where a digital command center replaces traditional nautical controls. A 32-in 6K HMI touchscreen running BMW Operating System 8 and a race-inspired wheel offer an intuitive, luxury car-like control experience. The digital information presentation and voice commands mirror the experience of driving an electric BMW.
The Icon is powered by six BMW i batteries, with a combined power of 240 kWh. Coupled with drag-reducing foils and two 100-kW motors, the 43.14-ft (13.14-m) vessel can travel up to 50 nautical miles (93 km) per charge, attaining a maximum speed of 30 knots (56 km/h) and a cruising speed of 24 knots (44 km/h).
Complementing the vessel’s state-of-the-art design and technology, Hans Zimmer, a frequent collaborator with BMW, has developed a bespoke soundtrack for the voyage. Passengers can immerse themselves in Zimmer’s composition through the vessel-wide Dolby Atmos system. A tablet control system offers easy adjustment of audio settings and other infotainment features.
While the Icon’s design might seem more suited to a movie, BMW confirms that it is production-ready, premiering in Cannes. The boat’s adaptable platform can be modified to meet the requirements of both commercial and private buyers, illustrating BMW’s commitment to cater to a wide array of needs.