Dramatic BMW electric boat premiers at Cannes Film Festival

Electric boats are not what you usually think of when you think ‘Cannes Premier’, but BMW has partnered with TYDE boats to present an electric hydrofoiler – The Icon – at the world’s most famous film festival.

TYDE is the start-up from Torqeedo founder Christoph Ballin and tech entrepreneur Tobias Hoffritz. The Icon is their first project, and it is stunning.

TYDE co-founded by Torqeedo pioneer Christoph Ballin

It is the result of collaboration between a range of mobility experts. Hoffritz has previously worked with BMW on a number of technology and innovation projects, Ballin is one of the great pioneers of electric boating, the electric system sources its energy from high-voltage BMWi batteries and the design is by Designworks, a BMW Group subsidiary with studios in Los Angeles, Munich and Shanghai.

Plugboats Archive: Torqeedo founded in a Lake Starnberg boatshed

Surprisingly, Ballin is not the only one on the team with boating experience. BMW started a marine division building boat engines back in 1919 and eventually sold it to Mercury in 1987. Designworks partnered with Sea Ray last year on the SLX 260.

The Icon is 13.15 meters long and 4.5 meters wide. (43 feet x 15 feet), powered by twin 100 kW electric motors backed by batteries with 240 kiloWatthours of energy storage. That translates to about 275 horsepower.

It has a maximum speed of 33 kn, service speed of 24 and range at service speed of more than 50 nautical miles. (Conversion: max speed: 38 mph, 61 km/h • service speed: 28 mph, 44 km/h • range at service speed: > 57 miles, 93 km)

BMW electric boat has Operating System 8 console

One of the main reasons for this combination of speed and range is the hydrofoiling component. By raising the hull of the boat to ‘fly’ above the water, drag and water resistance is almost zero and energy consumption is reduced by almost 80%.

There are no details in the press release, but from looking at the Tyde website, it appears the Icon’s motor has contra-rotating propellers, which increases thrust and efficiency by focusing the propulsive force of the water behind the props.

Apart from the technology, what is most impressive about the Icon is the visual impact and how all design elements – functional and esthetic – come together. The hybrid shape of the hull is optimized both for the displacement and foiling modes and is comparatively wide and flat.  That enables a central support element inside which in turn enables the transparent architecture.

The designers were able to replace the conventional side sections of a watercraft with large glass surfaces constructed in a prism-like motif. It is dramatically different from standard boat design, and passengers can enjoy an extraordinary view.

The ‘command station’ is located centrally on the deck and features a new take on the BMW iDrive control/operation system with a 32-inch touchscreen display in crystal clear 6k resolution. It is hooked up with BMW Operating System 8 to show GPS and weather reports, battery State of Charge (SOC), speed and range – all of which can be called up using voice commands.

To go along with the high tech visuals, BMW and Tyde called on double Academy Award winning composer Hans Zimmer to consult on the Dolby Atmos immersive sound system.

Digital display is hooked up with BMW Operating System 8 and Dolby Atmos immersive sound

The Icon is obviously not made for the average weekend boater, and there is a very practical reason for that.

Christoph Ballin says “The luxury market is an important point of reference for other yachting segments. In addition, complex and elaborate solutions can be applied here first, before electric mobility becomes mainstream with large volumes in the coming years.”

It seems very fitting, then, that the Icon should premier among the glamour and glitz of the Cannes festival. Just as the movies debuting here go on to attract wider audiences, electric boating will do the same. Tyde says the boat presented this week is very much a production model, not a concept, and will be available in 2024.


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