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The coolest yacht and car collaborations

30 May 2023 • Written by Gemma Harris

Automotive design on the water is far from a novel concept. Superyacht designers have been borrowing ideas from the car world for years, often citing the curve of a wheel arch or swept-back profile of a sportscar as inspiration. But when car marques team up with shipyards, a new breed of crossover emerges. We take a look at the coolest yacht-car collaborations in recent years...

Frauscher X Porsche

Automotive giant Porche has entered the electric boat market in an exclusive collaboration with Austrian boatbuilder Frauscher. The 8.67-metre-long day cruiser is based on the Frauscher 858 Fantom Air but equipped with the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) drive technology of the future Porsche Macan. This includes a lithium-ion high voltage battery with a total capacity of around 100 kWh, a permanently excited synchronous electric motor (PSM) of the latest generation and the related power electronics. Thanks to the 800-volt technology from Porsche, the electric boat can be charged at DC fast-charging stations, with AC charging also possible. 

Like the Frauscher 858 Fantom Air with a conventional drivetrain, the electric version accommodates up to nine passengers. Design highlights include a rear swimming platform, a generous lounge area with sun pads and a premium sound system. Porsche will play a significant role in the design of the seats and upholstery.

Delivery of a first edition of 25 units is anticipated for 2024 with the option to preorder already available. 

Candela X Polestar: C-8

With the electric performance car brand Polestar already supplying battery technology to the hydrofoil electric boat builder Candela, this merging of these Swedish innovators isn’t a surprise. The trailblazers have teamed up to create a limited edition version of its popular foiling Candela C-8.

Design maintains that of the existing hydrofoil design but is now paired with the carmaker’s refined palette of colour and materials, including a light grey hue for the hull, seat upholstery that mirrors contemporary car interiors, and hydrofoils finished in iconic Swedish gold. The C-8 has a range of around 57 nautical miles and cruises at an impressive 22 knots.

“Candela’s hydrofoil technology is a paradigm shift for sustainable performance in the marine industry. Like the first time driving an electric car, you instantly feel that this is the future when the boat ‘takes off’ – and now with the special gold details that we so proudly exhibit on our cars,” said Maximilian Missoni, head of design at Polestar.

BMW X TYDE: The Icon

The iconic German car brand BMW teamed up with the tech start-up TYDE to unveil a 13.5-metre foiling boat dubbed The Icon. The flat trimaran-style hull with its transparent "prism-like" superstructure and angular and pointed lines turned heads at its debut in this year's Cannes Film Festival. 

The battery-powered boat, sourced from BMW's innovative i3, provides 240kWh of power to a pair of 100kW motors, enabling a range of up to 50 nautical miles and a top speed of 30 knots. Hydrofoil technology from Tyde has been used to reduce energy requirements by up to 80 per cent, avoiding drag and increasing range. 

BMW has integrated its authentic touches throughout the boat resulting in a standout cabin experience. The car giant took inspiration from its high-end cars delivering an onboard 'soundscape' composed by Hans Zimmer through a Dolby Atmos system. While the BMW-designed helming station comprises a sole digital control unit with a 32-inch touch unit with 6k resolution designed to look and feel like the BMW iDrive operating system. Although a one-off, The Icon showcases the potential and future of electric vessels and collaborations between road and sea. 

Tecnomar for Lamborghini 63

Born out of a partnership between the two Italian brands, The Italian Sea Group and Automobili Lamborghini, this sports car inspired 19.2-metre pocket superyacht combines a lightweight boat design with supercar expertise. 

The futuristic and sporty design profile with an aerodynamic hardtop has been inspired by the hybrid Lamborghini Sian FKP 37. Meaning “flash of lightning” in Italian, it is the fastest model in the Tecnomar fleet, reaching a top speed of 60 knots thanks to a pair of MAN V-12 2000hp engines. 

Meanwhile, inside, the interior boasts clean lines, hexagonal shapes, and Italian-made materials. The bridge controls and navigational panels have been inspired by sportscar cockpits, with a helm styled to look like a car steering wheel. 

The Tecnomar for Lamborghini 63 references the year the supercar brand was established and marks its first foray into the yachting world. Since its launch, the brand has delivered two 63 models to clients.  

Axopar X Brabus: Shadow 900 series

Finnish dayboat specialist Axopar teamed up with the German car manufacturer Brabus to produce a series of high-power day boats. The link between the two companies was formally announced at the 2018 Dusseldorf Boat Show, and since then, they have continued their legacy building on this Shadow series.

At this year's Boot, they unveiled the latest Stealth Green Signature edition of its Shadow 900 series. The 11.2-metre lean, green machines are powered by two Mercury Marine 450R 4.6-liter V8 four-stroke racing engines, with a combined output of 900hp; the dayboat can reach eye-watering speeds of up to 60 knots.

Aside from the ease in speed, other features inspired by the Brabus supercars are the clean and sleek helming area with futuristic elements such as fingertip controls, backlit switches, touchscreen technology and a multifunctional steering wheel. Additional comfort and luxury are showcased by the leather upholstery and lashings of carbon fibre throughout. The integrated entertainment system is completed with a 42-inch flat-screen TV and Apple TV connectivity.

This new edition comes after the launch of the Black Ops and Deep Blue Signature models in 2022. The Shadow 900 models are available in various configurations, including the fully open Spyder version, the Sun-Top, a fully enclosed XC-Cross Cabin - dubbed the SUV of the sea - and a fully enclosed cruiser.

Dynamiq X Porsche: GTT 115

Dynamiq makes no secret of its automotive inspiration when the yard launched its debut superyacht, Jetsetter in 2016. Charging ahead of the yacht-car collaborations in size and scope is  Dynamiq and one of the biggest names in the automotive industry, Porsche, with the Dynamiq GTT 115.

The 35-metre all-aluminium superyacht, now named Jaaber, was first unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Yacht Show. It is hull number one in a limited edition of run of models designed by Studio F.A Porsche, Dynamiq and Vripack. The subtlety of the renowned German car manufacturer's DNA is found spanning across three decks, including the Pepita houndstooth fabrics similar to those found on the Porsche 911 R edition sportscar.

Roland Heiler, managing director of Studio F.A Porsche said: "Taking the spirit of high-performance sportscar styling to the high seas, the Dynamiq GTT 115 is designed to appeal to car lovers and forward-thinking yacht owners who appreciate the advantages of speed, style and our philosophy of intelligent performance."

Power is from a pair of 1,650hp MAN V12 engines twinned to Fortjes pod drives and three variable speed generators enabling a top speed of around 21 knots and a cruising range of 3,400 nautical miles.

Riva X Ferrari

Timeless classics are found within both industries and this one was bought to life in the early 1990s through a collaboration between the legendary Riva and Ferrari. Only 40 units of this 9.6-metre boat were produced. Making the boat considerably rarer than many of the carmakers' most desirable supercars.

Thanks to the pair of Vulcano 390hp V8 engines, this limited edition run of speedboats can reach up to speeds in excess of 50 knots. The design elements inspired by the Ferrari Testarossa, include the side streaks and full-width slotted rear end.

Aside from the Rosso Corsa paint job, the supercar-inspired spoiler sitting above the cabin makes its bold statement. Meanwhile, inside the cabin of the boat, there is a leather-wrapped, three-spoke steering wheel with yellow lettering and dials.

Bugatti X Palmer Johnson: Niniette 66

Famed for making the world’s fastest production sports car, the Veyron, the French manufacturer Bugatti joined forces with U.S. boat builder Palmer Johnson. Presenting this series of carbon fibre day boats, the name is a nod to the history of  Bugatti, Niniette was the nickname of the founder Ettore Bugatti's daughter. 

Each Niniette gets its name from its length in feet. The 20-metre cruiser features a reversed, larger-than-usual sharp bow that widens to the hull sides. The main design feature comprising of a circular element, which resembles that of the Bugatti Chiron hypercar. Key features include a fire pit and a spa pool in the spacious main deck seating area and a double cabin below. In true car and yacht crossover style, there are a range of engine options allowing for top speeds of up to 44 knots.

Etienne Salomé, head of interior design at Bugatti, is delighted with the result, adding, "The Niniette is a genuine member of the Bugatti family. Even from a large distance when entering a port, the Niniette will always be recognised as a true Bugatti."

Mercedes-Benz X Silver Arrows Marine: Arrow 460-Granturismo

In the car world, it is common for a project to be in development for five years or so before the prototype is unveiled. In the boating world, no builder would tie up design capital that long, which makes this boat all the more intriguing. The idea was conceived in 2009 by Gorden Wagener, vice president of design for Daimler, Mercedes’ parent company. Mercedes has numerous design centres but the Advanced Design Centre for Mercedes-Benz Style on Italy’s Lake Como developed Wagener’s idea: what if Mercedes-Benz Style designed a boat? The Lake Como style gurus began sketching, borrowing liberally from Mercedes’ famous Silver Arrows racing cars of the 1930s and from the iconic 1954 gull wing 300 SL. 

Soon the group expanded to include former automotive journalist and avid boater Paolo Bonaveri, and entrepreneurs Jacopo Spadolini and Ron Gibbs, who investigated the niche for an ultra-exclusive, innovative Med-style cruiser. They formed the UK-based company Silver Arrows Marine to build it and brought in Tommaso Spadolini and Martin Francis. 

The dayboat concept was becoming multifunctional; they began to think of it as a grand touring car, a granturismo. The name stuck. On the technical side, Swiss composite expert Carboman pushed every element from skin laminates to the 3D engineering of the systems. At an overall length of just 14.2m, the R&D per centimetre is staggering. Like a car interior, everything is built-in, and storage, the head and mini galley are hidden away. 

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