It’s widely known that Elon Musk is a big fan of the submersible Lotus Esprit from the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me — the Tesla CEO even bought the car from the movie, which was converted into a submarine, for £616,000 in 2013 — but he perhaps didn’t have underwater cars in mind when his company came up with the Model 3.
However, one driver in San Diego clearly felt differently, as a viral video on TikTok shows.
Filmed by Melissa Jones and posted on the social media site, the footage from January 22 shows a stranded Volkswagen Beetle in water deep enough to almost reach the tops of its tyres.
The Beetle’s driver is out of the car and wandering around in the water, trying to discourage other motorists from entering the deep flood.
Yet the Tesla driver ploughs on regardless of her warnings, despite the fact the water is washing over the bottom of the electric car’s windscreen at points.
Melissa, who was part of a crowd watching from a nearby hotel, told Storyful: “A Tesla driver hauled through the flooding, causing waves. How the electric vehicle made it through was mind-blowing.”
Although the video shows the Tesla speeding out of the floodwater and away down the street at the end, the ultimate fate of the car is not clear.
That much water, washing as high up the car as it did, may have got past some of the seals in the bodywork — and into the Model 3’s moving parts, too.
One warranty claim, coming right up…
Tesla’s owners’ manual for the Model 3 says: “As with any vehicle, if your Tesla has been exposed to flooding, extreme weather events or has otherwise been submerged in water (especially in saltwater), treat it as if it’s been in an accident and contact your insurance company for support.”
That said, some argue electric vehicles (EVs) may be better for going through deep standing water than cars fitted with internal combustion engines.
One advantage of EVs, which is clearly demonstrated in the video, is that — unlike internal combustion engines — they do not need to take in air for their motors to work.
It is water being sucked into the air intake of a petrol or diesel car, and into its engine, which will irreversibly damage the vehicle, in a process called “hydrolocking”. EVs run no such risk.
Electricity and water do mix
Nevertheless, everyone knows that electricity and water are not the happiest of bedfellows, and as a result some members of the public believe that EVs are rendered useless in extreme wet conditions.
A 2019 survey by LV= General Insurance found that one-in-five people thought EVs couldn’t go through a car wash.
Incredibly, 12 per cent of the survey’s respondents even believed that EVs shouldn’t be used in heavy rain.
It would seem, however, that Melissa’s widely viewed TikTok video of an American Tesla owner doing their best impression of 007 driving into the sea suggests EVs are rather more adept at wading than combustion cars. Of course, electric battery packs, motors and their high voltage wiring should be completely water tight.
But if you don’t want to risk invalidating your warranty, don’t try this at home.
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