A Tesla Boat? The Vehicles Survive Torrential Floodwaters

Brad Bergan
Clips of the Tesla Model 3 powering through floodwaters.1, 2

When floodwaters hit streets, most cars are in trouble. But not Tesla's, not necessarily.

A new video depicts a Tesla Model 3 powering through torrential floodwaters, according to a report from China's Henan province, which has suffered substantial floods this month. If you look closely, you can see water jetting up from behind the rear wheels, signifying forward propulsion through waters crowded with stalled fossil-fuel vehicles.

However, we feel compelled to say: don't try this at home.

Tesla cars drive in floodwaters via 'thrust to wheel rotation'

The Tesla Model 3's rear-wheel drive seems powerful enough for the vehicle to churn its way through heavy floodwaters like an enraged paddleboat, which says a lot about the potential of all-electric cars in general. But this might not be something Tesla cars can handle without damage. In fact, CEO Tesla Elon Musk has humblebragged his way through this (shall we say) activity, in a 2016 tweet about sweet bonus features that may or may not be advised. "We *def* don't recommend this, but Model S floats well enough to turn it into a boat for short periods of time," tweeted the tech billionaire. "Thrust via wheel rotation."

Strangely enough, Tesla tests all Model 3 and Model Y vehicles at its Gigafactory in Shanghai for flooded streets by simulating one, according to a Teslarati report. But this is necessary, since China weather regular typhoons that, upon landfall, can wreak havoc on modern roads. That said, you really shouldn't take a joy-ride through the nearest flood, or, in the absence of natural disaster, go very off-road into a creek or small river, unless you want to know what it's like to survive inside a sinking, flooding car. Moreover, Tesla probably doesn't hand out warranties for intentional water damage.

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Elon Musk wants to build a submarine car

However, it's interesting to note that "Tesla cars in water" is not a new idea. In June of 2020, Musk hinted at the amphibious potential of the forthcoming Cybertruck in a lighthearted reply to a bizarre concept video that depicts the company's all-electric pickup truck operating like a boat in deep waters. Under the computer rendering of a floating Cybertruck from the 3D designer who created a life-like concept of a next-gen Tesla Roadster Slav Popovski, Musk wrote "I think we could make that work." And we should never be surprised when the tech billionaire voices his affection for vehicles that can handle water as well as land.

Back in 2013, Musk purchased the Lotus Espirit S1 movie prop from the classic 1977 James Bond flick "The Spy Who Loved Me", which featured a sports car transforming into a functional submarine. Of course, this was just an illusion of cinema, and one Musk lamented, adding that he'd likely try to build an amphibious vehicle with Tesla at some point. And he hasn't strayed too far from the dream. In a 2019 Annual Shareholder Meeting, he said a submarine car was "technically possible". And, while there's probably not an overwhelmingly large market for water-worthy cars, it's impossible to deny the enthusiasm one can expect from such outlandish ideas. For now, perhaps those who could, in theory, afford a submarine car, may placate their desire by driving their Tesla headlong into the nearest torrential flood, and record what happens. Nobody will stop them.

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