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Over the past two months, China has been subjected to torrential downpours causing severe flooding across the country that has affected many cities. Xian, in particular saw heavy rains that resulted in roads being flooded within hours. However, locals were treated to an unusual spectacle when a Tesla Model 3 seemed to effortlessly make its way through a street that was submerged in water. A recent clip posted online showed one of Tesla’s electric vehicles navigating the flood with apparent ease, much to the delight of onlookers.
Tesla seems to have given some thought to its EV’s water-resistant capabilities specifically for the Asian-produced models where typhoons commonly cause flooding in China and Southeast Asia. In November 2019, it was reported that the locally manufactured Model 3 underwent flood testing after it was spotted driving through an intentionally flooded area in Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory complex. This bodes well for Tesla’s penetration into the Far East’s EV industry with a flood-resistant and reasonably-priced electric vehicle.
The Tesla Model S was also assessed for its reaction when exposed to meter-deep water when the EV went through a flooded tunnel in Kazakhstan. Amazingly, the Model S vehicle started floating. Musk explained the “Model S floats well enough to turn into a boat for short periods of time. Thrust via wheel rotation.” He added to the tweet’s thread that the drive unit and battery on the Model S are all sealed to keep out liquids. This hardly means you need get your car to the slipway for a sail, as the Tesla founder said he definitely doesn't recommend using the Model S as a boat.
Testing electric vehicles in water is not something Musk has reserved for its Made-in-China models. Since 2013, the billionaire CEO has frequently hinted at his fascination with amphibious vehicles. A few years ago, he purchased the custom-made submarine car used in James Bond’s 1977 movie, The Spy Who Loved Me. His intention was to upgrade the Lotus Esprit with one of Tesla’s electric engines to create a sports sub car.
However, he did clarify that we shouldn’t expect a consumer version of a submersible Tesla model as he was only doing this as a side project due to limited market potential.
Nevertheless, Elon Musk likes to keep us guessing about how far he will go with Tesla electric vehicles’ potential features in handling water. In a tweet where a 3-D artist made a video on the Cybertruck looking virtually amphibious, the Tesla owner responded, “I think we could make it work.” It may not seem so far-fetched to imagine because Musk previously confirmed that it’s possible for a Tesla to float, “A Tesla works as a boat for short periods of time, as an electric car has no air intake or exhaust to block & battery/motor/electronics are water-sealed”.
Considering he has made remarks in the past that seemed at the time to come out of a science fiction movie, he’s delivering on his futuristic ideas. Just look at what SpaceX has achieved since he first spoke about making a rocket that could return to earth. Seven years ago, Musk had this idea to revolutionize rapid transport in a high-speed pod between San Francisco and Los Angeles. One of Amtrak’s CEOs, Richard Anderson said a few years later that it did not seem realistic for a high-speed hyperloop to replace traditional rail travel and transport anytime soon. And, just a few days ago, Tesla got the green light to start building his hyperloop tunnel in Las Vegas.
What we’re learning is never to take Elon Musk’s ideas with a pinch of salt. There’s always a bit truth behind his innovative ideas.