A video on YouTube of a Tesla Model S swimming its way through a flooded highway tunnel has gone viral. Apparently, the heavy battery placed low in the chassis of the car makes it capable of traversing swirling flood waters better than its internal combustion engine powered cousins.
Earlier this year, the company included a software “Easter egg” that paid homage to the Lotus Esprit S1 car that turned into a submarine in the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me back in 1977. The key that unlocked the secret display was the code “007.” Inspired by the recent video and that Easter egg, an unknown artist penned an updated design of a Model S that converts to a submarine. It was posted on the Tesla Motors Club forum by FlatSix911.
That inspired Elon Musk to tweet out that he had always envisioned a Tesla submarine but thought the market for such a vehicle might be rather small.
If curious abt TSWLM car, am still planning to do a sports sub car that can drive on roads. Just a side project. Limited market potential 🙂
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 19, 2016
However much fun it might be to see a video of a swimming Tesla, getting caught in a flood is hardly a desirable event. If water gets in to the battery pack or any of the extensive electronics of the car — especially the battery or motor control systems — the owner will be faced with expensive repair bills.
Before you try fording any streams in your Model S, you should keep in mind the experience of inveterate tinkerer and Tesla fanatic Rick, aka Btr_ftw on the Tesla Motors Club forum. He purchased a Model S that had been drowned in a flood and attempted to resuscitate it. His adventure involved lots of time, effort, and expense. Once your Tesla becomes waterlogged, it is no longer covered under warranty.
The experience did net him a wealth of information about how a Tesla Model S is built. Among other things he learned along the way is that Massachusetts is the only state with a law that requires manufacturers to make their internal service and repair manuals available to customers — for a fee. In the case of Tesla, those fees can get to be thousands of dollars in a hurry. Ultimately, Rich had to raise the white flag and admit defeat.