New watercraft challenges the idea that electric mobility must be limited to smaller and slower boats with a restricted range.

By Sony Thomas

 As the who’s who of world cinema descended upon the southern French town of Cannes for the 76th edition of the annual Film Festival recently, a unique premiere that happened at the Riviera drew everyone’s attention away from the silver screen for a while. Automaker BMW, which was the festival’s official transport partner, premiered the Icon, a remarkable watercraft that showcases sustainable luxury on the water.

Developed and built in association with boat manufacturer Tyde, the Icon, which measures 43.14 feet in length and reaches a top speed of 30 knots, epitomises the German automaker’s pursuit of emission-free travel and its comprehensive vision of opulence. While Tyde was responsible for constructing the concept, the powerful electric drive system with two 100kW electric motors is powered by six high-voltage batteries from BMW i3, offering a range of over 50 nautical miles, which is approximately 100 kilometres.

BMW says the Icon challenges conventional norms that suggest that electric mobility on the water is limited to smaller and slower crafts with restricted range, while faster boats with longer range are predominantly powered by combustion engines. To redefine the relationship between size, speed, and range for an electric watercraft, BMW and Tyde have incorporated hydrofoils in the Icon which reduces energy consumption by up to 80 per cent compared to conventional crafts. Inspired by yacht racing, foiling technology enables the vessel to glide on wing structures beneath the water’s surface, providing enhanced comfort and higher speeds. Alongside its innovative drive system and foiling technology, the new boat operates almost silently, eliminating vibrations and shocks, and minimising wake disturbances.

Passengers can expect an extraordinary audio experience while indulging in the onboard Dolby Atmos system that promises to deliver exceptional sound quality throughout the vessel. BMW collaborated with double Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer to create a unique sound concept for the drive system and intentional function tones, adding to the overall travel experience. The design team’s objective was to translate the distinctive concept into an immersive experience, both inside and out. The vessel’s prism-like transparent architecture creates a spacious lounge entrance, with a generous width of 14.7 feet in the rear section. BMW says the lightweight origami structure of the hull ensures a smooth and comfortable travel experience, while expansive glass surfaces offer unobstructed views of the water. The user-centric experience revolves around 360° rotating seats that can be effortlessly repositioned, aimed at facilitating social interaction.

The Icon is a production-ready watercraft that is being offered for both private and commercial use, with its platform concept allowing for adaptability to individual preferences and customisation needs.

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