“A Tesla works as a boat for short periods of time,” tweeted CEO Elon Musk in 2020. As EVs have no air intake, the motor and battery are water sealed, he said. Fast forward to 2023, and it seems like some Tesla owners are taking Musk too seriously.

A river crossing in Nottinghamshire, England has reportedly become somewhat of a tourist attraction in recent years. Christened the Rufford ford, it is part of the Rainworth Water River, which commuters have to cross to get to the other side.

The ford is nestled in the English countryside, with a narrow patch of tarmac passing under a canopy of trees.

A YouTuber’s recent video showcases several Tesla cars easily trundling past the ford, which appears deep enough to submerge a Model 3’s headlamps. The water levels ebb and flow depending on the weather, and The Guardian reported that social media fuelled a car-gazing craze at the spot.

The report also said that after rains, the crossing can be several feet deep and 30 feet wide. It’s quite impressive how the Teslas get through sans hiccups. It’s common knowledge that EV batteries and drivetrains are water sealed, and can sustain water exposure for brief time periods.

 

The same cannot be said about all internal combustion engined cars, which may be limited by air intakes, exhaust, and possibly other elements – unless they’re engineered to be go-anywhere rough terrain-tackling SUVs.

“We definitely don’t recommend this, but the Model S floats well enough to turn it into a boat, for short periods of time, thrust via wheel rotation,” tweeted Musk in 2016. He even shared a video of a Model S swimming through a flooded tunnel while ICE cars appeared stuck.

Although one Model S user, owner of an older version of the EV, said his car failed after driving in the rain. Musk has made similar claims about the upcoming Cybertruck, which can apparently cross rivers, lakes, and even seas that aren’t too choppy.

It’s safe to say that if you encounter small and shallow water crossings, your Tesla is likely to drive past comfortably. Teslas have earned top safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS). As for the boating claims, I’d regard those with caution.