An American YouTuber by the name of Chillin’ with Chet, specialist in videos around Tesla tried to put his Model S under water, with a… mixed result.
It is common knowledge that cars do not like water. Gasoline vehicles should not be submerged, even if they are waterproof, the engine could break if water were to seep inside. But today with the development of electric cars, the question of amphibious cars comes back.
To understand why it is much less dangerous to put an electric car under water than a gas-powered car, you must first understand what happens when a combustion-powered car takes on water.
Thermal car and water: the (very) bad marriage
A classic thermal car works by burning fuel (gasoline or diesel) with air. Arriving under pressure in the combustion chamber, the two elements will release a large amount of energy which then drives the pistons, which in turn, to put it simply, drive the wheels, which makes the car move forward.
The problem is that if the car is under water, the air coming into the engine becomes water, and the latter cannot be compressed. This means that when the piston goes up to compress the water, it will harden under the pressure and break the piston itself or another part of the engine around it. This is why you should never drive in very heavy rain when the air filter is submerged.
Electric car does not mean amphibious car
But for electric cars, things are different. Indeed, as their names indicate, they do not need air to run the engine. It is therefore theoretically possible to operate them under water, provided that the system is waterproof.
Faced with this theoretical question, an American YouTuber decided to provide a practical answer. He decided to throw a Tesla Model S into an artificial pond to see if it was able to keep rolling, even once in the water.
Spoiler: if the Tesla does not end up sinking to the bottom of the small basin, the latter quickly saw water infiltrate its interior despite the many modifications that have been made. In the end, it’s a partial failure which shows that cars, both thermal and electric, are made to be driven on the road.