The all-new Icon electric hydrofoil looks more like a design project than a BMW, but in fact, it’s a bit of both. A collaboration between BMW Group Designworks, German boat builder TYDE and Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer, the boat could certainly be an impressive movie prop, but it’s in the waters outside the 76th Cannes Film Festival debuted in .
The Icon has plenty of BMW i battery power for up to 50 nautical miles (93 km), three hydrofoils for quiet, efficient and fast cruising, and enough windows for paparazzi-level celebrity viewing.
Technically, the ship is called THE ICON by its creator, but that claim is too pretentious to admit more than once, so we’ll stick with Icon. We’re not sure it’s a sign of a maverick, a design rebel, even in the burgeoning world of electric hydrofoils where unusual styling still reigns supreme.
The Icon looks more like a piece of dramatic land-building with aircraft-inspired elements than a ship. Its oversized prismatic greenhouse is sandwiched between the hull plinth and wing-like roof in a distinctive contrasting green. The near symmetry created by the tall stern and similarly angled creased bow compensates for the complete asymmetry between the two.
Icon’s striking styling isn’t just for show from the outside, as the design is designed to provide a unique onboard experience. Of course, the windows offer unrivaled visibility, and the downward-facing lower panel promises to work perfectly with the high ride of the hydrofoil system. Meanwhile, a triangular widening from bow to stern opens up the entrance to a 14.7-foot-wide (4.5-meter) aft lounge, also covered in floor-to-ceiling glass.
Inside, the aft saloon features angular furniture that is as avant-garde as the vessel itself. Reflective plinths flood natural light from the windows into the carpet in a dizzying kaleidoscopic show. Seats rotate 360 degrees to encourage social and viewing flexibility.
The arrangement of furniture follows the triangular form of the craft as the spaciously furnished salon gives way to a striking single-seat command station and small front lounge. Usually, a large, solid crease right in front of the captain’s chair would ruin the design, but the Icon’s sloping full-height windows, positioned just to port and starboard of that crease, seem to provide ample visibility.
BMW brings some automotive inspiration to the helm, with a digital command center replacing traditional nautical controls. A racing-inspired steering wheel sits aft and below an oversized 32-inch 6K HMI touchscreen running BMW Operating System 8 for intuitive, luxurious car-derived controls. Digital information presentation and voice commands are reminiscent of an electric BMW on the road.
The Icon is powered by six BMW i batteries totaling 240 kWh. Combine that power stack with drag-reducing foils and a pair of 100-kilowatt motors, and the 43.14-foot (13.14-meter) boat is capable of traveling 50 nautical miles (93 kilometers) per charge and reaching a top speed of 30 knots (56 km/h) . Cruising speed is 24 knots (44 km/h).
As for Hans Zimmer’s role in the design, the frequent BMW collaborator developed the soundtrack for the voyage, which passengers can enjoy through the ship’s Dolby Atmos system. A tablet control system lets passengers adjust audio settings and other infotainment features.
While the Icon looks more like a fantasy in a movie, BMW classifies its Cannes debut as production-ready. It says the boat is supported by an easily adaptable platform that can be adjusted to suit the needs of buyers, whether commercial or private.