May 24, 2023
by James Roberts
BMW and Tyde Are Making (Sustainable) Waves in the World of Boating
by James Roberts
May 24, 2023

Take a drive (or a bus or a taxi), and you may notice that there are more electric cars on the road these days. Manufacturers like Tesla, Hyundai and BMW all have electric models that negate the need for fossil fuels. And EVs are taking a bigger share of the market.

But what if it’s the open ocean that calls to you instead of the open road? How do you get your sustainable kicks then? According to Tyde, a German-based startup, progress on the seas has been slow in comparison to on land. It says that “many segments of marine mobility are still operating 100 percent on fossil fuels.” And with accidental oil spills and other hazardous substances spilling into the water, a seemingly pleasant outing can have a dangerous undercurrent.

That’s why Tyde builds all-electric, zero-emission boats such as The Icon, made in collaboration with BMW, and unveiled at the 76th Cannes Film Festival earlier this month. The revolutionary-looking design features Tyde’s hydrofoil technology which lifts the vessel out of the water so that it glides on a cushion of air. It’s some serious sci-fi stuff.

Powering the 13.15m boat are six batteries from BMW’s i3 vehicle; enough to give The Icon a range of 50 nautical miles and a top speed of 30 knots (that’s 100km and 55 km/h to us landlubbers). Flying above the water reduces drag, increases speed and decreases energy consumption. In fact, Tyde claims that the design reduces energy consumption by up to 80 percent.

The gliding method of travel also makes the vessel incredibly silent as it races across the sea; potentially reducing the impact on its environment. Tyde also states that the craft is made with a “circular material”, which is somewhat mysterious.

The design is unlike any boat we’ve seen. It’s angular, pointed, and covered in windows. A philistine might say it’s more iron than icon, but whichever way you look at it, it certainly catches your attention. And that’s what Tyde and BMW are trying to do: they believe that the marine industry needs “attractive and captivating products to bring a paradigm shift.”

Inside the boat, there’s a luxurious feel thanks to the upholstered furnishing, sleek decor and the huge touchscreen console. The prism-shaped cabin gives passengers a 360 degree view from above the waves, and while the ride is silent, BMW has worked with film composer Hans Zimmer to create a unique on-board soundscape, delivered through a Dolby Atmos powered system.

The Icon is a one-off; a PR stunt to excite boat owners to the possibility of electric vessels. While the world of private boats and yachts is very much a luxury, to build a better future, we need sustainable thinking in every industry. Hopefully this is the start of an electric revolution at sea.

Check out The Icon in more detail on Tyde’s website.