back to article How's your driving, Elon? Musk tweets that Tesla Model S 'floats'

It seems Elon Musk's transformation into James Bond – albeit Alan Partridge's favourite* 007, Roger Moore – is now complete. Musk tweeted this week that the $70,000 (£48,000) Tesla Model S "floats well enough to turn it into a boat for short periods of time." He added: "Am still planning to do a sports sub car that can drive …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. petur

    Incomplete article

    Shame El Reg didn't include the start of this conversation:

    https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/744549842496655360

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Incomplete article

      Exactly.

      The Reg article points out that "There is no serious suggestion that Elon Musk crashed his Tesla Model S or otherwise accidentally drove it into a body of water.", but doesn't mention the tweet Musk made immediately before, linking to an article about a Kazakh man driving his Tesla through a flooded tunnel.

      https://twitter.com/elonmusk?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

      http://electrek.co/2016/06/18/tesla-model-s-driving-swimming-flooded-tunnel-video/

  3. TRT Silver badge
  4. Frank N. Stein

    Can't say I blame him. If I were a billionaire I'd have some.. "unusual" vehicles, myself..

  5. 27escape

    I would like to know

    how well electric cars manage driving down flooded roads, how deep water can I go through etc

    1. NotBob

      Re: I would like to know

      Also, if it works for a short time, how long do I really have?

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I would like to know

      The car floats, so the depth of the water is not an issue. What is an issue is the speed of the water, since the wheels won't be powering the car very efficiently. The tweet from Musk was in response to a news story - someone in Kazakhstan had driven their Tesla through a flooded tunnel, where the water wasn't flowing very quickly (compared to a river).

      http://electrek.co/2016/06/18/tesla-model-s-driving-swimming-flooded-tunnel-video/

      It does look like the driver was a pillock though - he was moving quickly enough to create a bow wave that could cause water to enter and damage the engines of the other people's cars. Some 4x4 drivers have been know to do the same on flooded roads.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: I would like to know

        Considering the lack of internal combustion engine, knackering your car by pulling water into the engine isn't a problem so by all means carry on.

        1. Ogi

          Re: I would like to know

          Yeah but high voltages and water do not mix. Either you get a nasty short (and possible fire as a bunch of current gets dumped quickly), or you get accelerated corrosion and failure of the electrics, and possibly some interesting gasses released due to electrolysis.

          Especially as electric cars tend to have the battery and motors as low down as possible to keep the centre of gravity near the floor.

          In flooded cars the engine/mechanics are relatively unscathed*, it is the soggy interior and electrics that renders the car unusable most of the time. In petrol cars it is water shorting something in the electrics which causes the engine to stall most of the time when driving through water.

          I would be more concerned driving an electric car through water than a petrol one, and a diesel one even would concern me even less

          (*) assuming you didn't hydrolock the engine

          1. Francis Boyle

            Re: I would like to know

            Electric powered azimuth thrusters are common enough and manage to spend their entire working lives underwater without problems. The seals on the the Tesla's motors might are probably not that good but good enough to protect against constant road water should be good enough for a few seconds immersion.

      2. Alister

        Re: I would like to know

        It does look like the driver was a pillock though - he was moving quickly enough to create a bow wave that could cause water to enter and damage the engines of the other people's cars. Some 4x4 drivers have been know to do the same on flooded roads.

        Far from being a pillock, it sounds like he knew what he was doing.

        To drive through deep water you are taught that you should create a bow wave, as it causes a lower area of water immediately behind the wave, and thus less chance of water damage in the engine compartment, in particular it keeps the water away from the cooling fan, so less likely to spray it everywhere.

        In the case of the Tesla, there probably isn't a fan on the front, but the principle is sound.

        1. CCCP

          Re: I would like to know

          @alister

          I can confirm this works. My Honda Civic briefly became a boat/submarine in about 3.2 linguine of water. I gunned it 'cause I was scared and had no way to retreat. Bow wave saved the electrics/intake.

          "Saved" is relative, as every single light on the dash lit up like a christmas tree and the car went into limp mode. Oh, and the driver-side window opened. YMMV

          A week of drying out sorted everything (I think). Now sold...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I would like to know

        "I want to have a car that attract a woman with shave down below." - Borat

        Just sayin'.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: I would like to know

      Well so long as the motor/electric seals hold up, I'd say down to a depth of 2-3 meters as a conservative guess since there's no issue with flooding the engine through either the exhaust or air intake.

      Wonder if this means he'll do an off-road version for mud plugging?

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: I would like to know

      Very well actually.

      An electric power train if isolated properly has no issues as far as contact with water - something which is definitely not the case with petrol and especially diesel. Taking a sip puts a petrol motor into comatose, but repairable state (you need to take out the plugs before you try to restart it and crank the starter for a while in that state to make sure it spits anything it has inside). Taking a sip pretty much kills a diesel - it is a write off there and then.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: I would like to know

        My petrol series land rover 2 used to take dips all the time (was a member of the red rose off roading club back then). I even had plugs on the axle, the air filter was slightly higher (in case of splash - the electrics were also heavily greased. Highest I ever went up to was the door sill (effectively the full tyre). Don't stall, that is all.

        With an electric I would be quite worried about corrosion of the motor as they are on level with the wheels - looking at photos they are hardly watertight. The series 2 on the otherhand got jetwashed inside and outside regularly.

        1. VinceH

          Re: I would like to know

          "Don't stall, that is all."

          I used to off-road, and my brother still does. I have a photo somewhere of him on the bonnet of his vehicle part way across a point where a river crosses our route, after someone had thrown him a strap to attach to the car - having done just that. 8)

          1. Alien8n

            Re: I would like to know

            My first car was an F reg Ford Escort (automatic, petrol). Had to take it over the flooded A3 to get to work back in about 2000/2001 when the south of England was flooded. Drove straight through a flooded roundabout past a big 4x4 that had stalled in the middle. I swear that car was part amphibious.

            Next car was a Rover 400, with the manual gearbox it inevitably stalled in less than a foot of water and had to be towed out. No damage to electrics, started up again straight away once on the dry.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I would like to know

      I had my diesel passat through ~1m of water - enough to cover the headlights (it got very dark very quickly!)

      No issues at all. Just maintain forward momentum.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: I would like to know

        "Just maintain forward momentum."

        Interesting you should say that. Even with a heavy vehicle, it doesn't take much to start losing traction when you have to push your 1.5ton car and the water that the car is trying to displace (whilst having tyres underwater). If you car DOES have buoyancy then good luck....

    6. Eddy Ito

      Re: I would like to know

      @27escape

      I wouldn't recommend it for electric cars in general, or any car for that matter. One problem is that if it has a gearbox or differential of any kind it is likely vented which means water can enter the gearbox. Of course with water being heavier than oil, the oil will float on the water and if it fills with water push the oil out the vent entirely. Needless to say, water doesn't lubricate metal parts anywhere near as well as oil. The same is true for the wheel bearings, constant velocity joints, etc. I grant that most are now permanently lubricated and sealed so it becomes a question of what pressure those seals will take and for how long before allowing water inside. I've seen many a boat on the side of the road with a wheel missing because the owner didn't think to maintain the bearings on the trailer after a trip down the launch ramp.

      Granted if one has no alternative and finds oneself in a wash there's little harm in trying to get out just be sure to give it a good once over afterward to make sure the seals and lubrication is cared for.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I would like to know

        Just to clarify:

        If you are driving on a road that is flooded to a foot or two and there are other vehicles using it, don't go fast just because you are in a Chelsea Tractor - the resulting wave has fucked* the engines of smaller diesel cars and vans that would have been just fine had you not shown up.

        If you are crossing a river in the back of beyond in a 4X4, then for sure, do want you your training and experience tells you is best.

        * This was the term our mechanic used - I assume it is technical.

  6. JeffyPoooh
    Pint

    Needed feature...

    What with GPS Map errors and self-driving cars. The canals and ponds will be full of A.I. piloted vehicles.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Needed feature...

      interesting point... If the LIDAR or road marking recognition camera can't SEE the road surface due to water or snow or leaves, or mistakes the road for a river...

  7. Drone Pilot

    Water damage?

    I wonder if all new versions of Tesla have that pesky little orange dot like my iPhone which shows water damage?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Safari Suit

    I reckon Elon could pull that look off!

    The Gauntlet is throw down Mr Musk, over to you.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Safari Suit

      I think you're right. But not as Bond. Has anyone counted Mr Musks nipples recently?

  9. Barry Rueger

    Patent Infringement?

    Big deal Elon.

    Volkswagen advertised the same feature 50 years ago

    Https://thinkingouttabox.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/67vwfloatingbeetle.jpg?w=490

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Patent Infringement?

      Only because they saw the DUKW landing on shores they had occupied....

      1. Dave Bell

        Re: Patent Infringement?

        The German Army had an amphibious Volkswagen during the war.

        The Russians and Japanese had amphibious tanks.

        What made the DUKW significant was American manufacturing capacity.

  10. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Missing the most important question

    Does it have the surface to air missiles?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Missing the most important question

      I think I'd want the complete kit; rotating number plates, ejector seat, caltrops and of course machine guns behind the side lights.

      Being a submersible, torpedoes would be handy to fight off fricking laser equipped sharks.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Missing the most important question

        "I think I'd want the complete kit;" OK, let's see what I can do for you.

        "rotating number plates" Seems easy enough, just don't tell the DVLA.

        "ejector seat" I can make one that goes up, but I'm not sure what would happen when it came back down. It would eject, that's all I can guarantee. You also might not appreciate being next to it when it does eject.

        "caltrops" Easy. Just put a bag full of them on the passenger seat and chuck them out of the window as needed. Be careful not to hit your own rear tyres.

        "and of course machine guns behind the side lights." Hmm. That space is usually occupied by engine-y bits. Maybe an Uzi 9mm would fit? Might make a mess of your lights though.

        1. Bakana

          Re: Missing the most important question

          The Machine guns might be doable if you used a Long Barrel so that the larger parts are further back. You could even put the actual Gun inside the Doors with a carefully machined Barrel Extension.

          Just be careful about Slamming the doors and knocking things out of alignment.

          It's the Ammunition Storage that starts to really use up space...

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Missing the most important question

            Or you could use caseless ammunition.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Missing the most important question

        "I think I'd want the complete kit; rotating number plates, ejector seat, caltrops and of course machine guns behind the side lights."

        Did the Lotus have all that kit? Or are you confabulating it with the Aston Martin? Pretty sure the Lotus did have mini torpedoes though.

        1. Peter Leech

          Re: Missing the most important question

          The biggest problem with rotating number plates is that you'd have to remove at a minimum the supports behind the bumper, and possibly cut a hole in the radiator on most modern cars.

          Ejection seats are pretty easy to add, just shockinglyi llegal and prone to disaster on the MOT when the tester tries to adjust the seat when moving the car. Just ask Martin Baker for a couple of zero zero ejection seats. Jets deal with the roof by fitting explosives in the glass and blowing them up at the start of the ejection sequence, and I suppose you could do this with a car. Although there is a good reason pilots wear armoured helmets....

          Caltrops are dead simple, just a door dropping a box worth of them.

          Machine guns behind the side lights is not impossible depending on which calibre you want. The higher the calibe the bigger the problem and the fewerr ounds you could reasonably have stored. The biggest problem is feeding the ammo in and ejecting the empties. Much easier on older cars that had more space in the engine compartment or something with a rear mounted engine that has the boot space up front.

  11. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Inane mode

    "We *def* don't recommended this, but Model S floats well enough to turn it into a boat for short periods of time."

    Long enough for you to drive to your robotic rocket-landing barge?

  12. Adam 1

    agreed, Musk definitely one of the Bond

    ... villains.

  13. Tom 64

    Probably fine

    As long as your batteries don't short due to seal failure.

    Then you'll find yourself in a stalled, rapidly combusting car with some lovely electrolytic gasses, superheated steam and, oh sinking to boot. I think that combination might ruin anyone's day.

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