Electric Tech Explored

Can The Tesla Cybertruck Float On Water? (Boat Life)

by Emily Nicholls | Updated: June 28th, 2022
Cybertruck topside view

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The Cybertruck is already garnering a lot of attention for its futuristic, dystopian-style design. With this in mind, it doesn’t seem totally absurd to throw in floating capabilities too. 

Musk took to Twitter in April 2020 responding to a query about whether the Cybertruck could wade through water. He responded by saying it will be capable of floating, for a while. While I don’t have an immediate need for a pick-up truck with floating capabilities, it’s an intriguing concept!

Why Might The Cybertruck Need Floating Capabilities?

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Since Musk’s announcement in 2020, there have been rather a lot of questions on what these floating capabilities will be, how will they work, and just what sort of scenarios are we looking at. Now it is important to remember that the Cybertruck is being built with the utility of a truck but with sports car performance.

Naturally being made by Tesla we can also expect the usual array of technological innovations built into the vehicle too. 

Just looking at the design of the pick-up truck, though, you can expect it to attract some of the more adventurous drivers who like to take the more scenic routes in life. This is the vehicle for the people who go off the beaten track and into the wilderness but still like plenty of gadgets and comfort.

For this reason, you can expect that some people may want to take this across stretches of water.

For those who want to use the Cybertruck for their latest fishing trip, it’s a bonus that the vehicle can wade through deep waters and float for a while. The vehicle is being designed specifically to handle harsh environments. 

What Was The Inspiration Behind The Cybertruck?

According to Elon Musk, the design of the Cybertruck was apparently influenced by the 1976 Lotus Esprit in the James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me”. The film shows a similarly shaped car being driven by Bond in a car chase across Sardinia.

Bond evades his pursuers and drives off a jetty with the car converting into a submarine. 

Elon Musk was so taken by the custom submarine, known as “Wet Nellie”, that represented the fictional car in the underwater sequences that in 2013 he purchased it for £550,000. He had planned to convert it into a functional car-submarine. 

What Is The Cybercat?

While the Cybertruck itself is designed for harsh environments, it is not designed to be a boat. However, the Cybertruck will have another option, the Cybercat.

The accessory kit is specifically designed for the Cybertruck, comprising pontoons, electric outboard motors, as well as, hydrofoils, which can be folded and stored in the vehicle. With this kit, the Cybertruck can be taken from a futuristic-looking truck to an even more futuristic-looking watercraft. 

The Cybercat will enable the Cybertruck to reach a top speed of 20 miles per hour and a range of around 115 miles. Using hydrofoils, which will raise its body out of the water for better hydrodynamics, will increase its speed capabilities up to 40 miles per hour.

The accessories for the all-electric amphibious catamaran can apparently be installed by a single person in less time than it takes to launch a boat. 

tesla cybertruck seat

Cybercat has confirmed that it is not a third-party aftermarket solution. Cybercat will work directly with original equipment manufacturers, known as OEMs, to bring the product to market.

How Does The Cybercat Kit Work?

The accessory kit is equipped with 1 to 5 50kW outboard motors, which are powered by the battery pack of the Cybertruck. The outboard motors teamed with the truck’s adaptive air suspension, make the Cybercat amphibious and provide 12” of ground clearance. 

When on the water, the truck’s wheels retract out of the water making for a fast takeoff. From there, the electric outboard motors, pontoons, and hydrofoils fold down. The Cybercat has been designed to maneuver the wheel rotation of the Cybertruck when on shallow waters. 

Do Other Tesla Vehicles Float?

While the Cybertruck will be the first of Tesla’s vehicles designed to handle water, whether just the car alone or with the Cybercat kit, Tesla’s other models can survive in water for a short amount of time. It has to be stressed that Tesla does not recommend immersing its cars in water for a longer period of time or attempting to use them as boats. This inevitably risks damage to the sensitive components of the vehicles. 

An incident in 2016 put Tesla’s Model S sedan’s water capabilities to the test when it encountered floodwaters in a tunnel. The driver was able to leave the area using the car as a car-cum-boat. The car apparently survived the watery encounter without any problems.

Although not specifically designed for off-road water, the other models of cars can survive wading in water for short amounts of time. 

Does Submerging Electric Vehicles In Water Cause Damage?

While it is certainly not recommended to take your car through a large amount of water unless you absolutely have to in order to reach safety, there is a misconception that electric cars handle water worse than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. Electric cars are safe to drive through water with no risk of electric shock due to battery insulation, even if fully submerged.

It is worth noting though that electric cars that have been submerged in salt water can have a higher risk of the battery short-circuiting, which can potentially result in a battery fire. 

All electric cars have an Ingress Protection system, which can be IP65 or IP67, depending on the vehicle. The digits represent the protection the car has against dust and water. Electric cars generally have an IP rating of IP67, which is considered perfectly adequate protection.

Any value above that will be for specialized equipment like a submarine. With an IP rating of IP67, you can submerge the vehicle in the water a meter deep for up to 30 minutes.

What Should I Do If I Need To Drive Through A Flood?

According to Elon Musk, if you are in a situation where you need to drive through floodwater, you should thrust the vehicle through the water by rotating the wheels back and forth, kind of like if you were using oars. 

While electric cars have been known to drive through floods, it is important to note that if the vehicle itself gets flooded it can be dangerous for the people in the car. Since water conducts electricity and electric vehicles produce more amp than a person can withstand, there is a risk of electrocution. Due to this risk, electric cars are built with excellent water insulation around the car batteries and circuits to avoid electrocution.  

Which Would Fare Better In A Flood, An Ice Car Or An Electric One?

It is widely known that ICE cars do not do very well when it comes to floodwaters. Since electric vehicles do not have an engine needing cooling or air, the level of risk of damage to the cars is lower than that of an ICE car. 

ICE cars also have more components in general which could be damaged if water got in. Internal combustion engines can have the air intake near to the ground in order to draw cold air into the engine. However, if you drive through floodwater there is a risk that water will be sucked into the intake causing serious damage to the engine.

Any water left in the engine can also cause parts of the engine to corrode and the cylinders of the engine can lock up if not properly drained. 

While electric cars can withstand floodwater for a short amount of time, the Cybertruck is the first of Tesla’s vehicles that are designed with water in mind. It is capable of floating for a short time but it has been stressed that the car alone is not designed to be like a boat. However, when we add the Cybercat into the mix, things change.

The Cybercat will quickly transform the electric pick-up truck into an all-electric amphibious catamaran – perfect for the next fishing trip. However, since the Cybertruck is not due to be available until 2023, we will all have to wait with baited breath to see the real deal.