Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, tweeted in 2020 that Tesla EVs can function as boats for short periods of time. According to Musk, the motors and batteries of Tesla EVs are water sealed, protecting them from water damage. Fast forward to 2023, and it appears that some Tesla owners are taking Musk’s statement quite seriously.
A river crossing called the Rufford ford has gained popularity as a tourist attraction in recent years. This ford is situated in Nottinghamshire, England, and it features a narrow strip of road passing beneath a canopy of trees. The water levels in the ford fluctuate depending on the weather, and thanks to social media, it has become a spot where people gather to observe cars crossing the water.
A recent video by a YouTuber showcases several Tesla vehicles easily passing through the ford, which seems deep enough to submerge the headlights of a Tesla Model 3. According to The Guardian, the crossing can become several feet deep and 30 feet wide after heavy rainfall.
It’s impressive to see the Teslas navigate through the water without any issues. It’s well-known that EV batteries and drivetrains are designed to be water sealed and can handle brief exposure to water.
However, the same cannot be said for all cars with internal combustion engines, as they may be limited by factors like air intakes, exhaust systems, and other components, unless they are specifically built as off-road SUVs.
Elon Musk also tweeted in 2016 that the Model S can function as a boat for short periods of time, propelled by the rotation of its wheels. He even shared a video of a Model S driving through a flooded tunnel while conventional cars appeared to be stuck. Musk has made similar claims about the upcoming Cybertruck, stating that it will be able to cross rivers, lakes, and even relatively calm seas.
It’s safe to say that if you encounter small and shallow water crossings, your Tesla is likely to pass through comfortably. Tesla vehicles have received top safety ratings from reputable organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS).
However, it’s advisable to approach Musk’s claims about Tesla’s boating capabilities with caution. One Model S owner with an older version of the car reported a failure after driving in the rain.
You can watch the video of the Rufford ford above to see how Teslas handle water crossings.
Image source: DaveinNotts, https://twitter.com/davidjamesdj/status/1628394988395544576. Image cropped.