Skip to main content

New technological breakthroughs often feel like magic at first. With the advent of EVs or the attempts to create autonomous driving, this concept should be pretty familiar for anyone paying attention to the car world. However, this Tesla Model X falling into a marina in Spain might be a little too on the nose. Once the Tesla Model X was submerged, the water above began to boil and steam like some sort of cartoon witch’s brew. 

A white Tesla Model X SUV at the Citi Taste of Tennis at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa in March 2018
Tesla Model X | Rich Fury/Getty Images for AYS Sports Marketing

What happens when an electric car goes underwater? 

Last year a YouTuber drove a Model S under seven feet of water to prove that electric cars can handle a little dip. In theory, EVs should be able to handle driving underwater better than an internal combustion engine because they don’t require oxygen to run. Although the Tesla never successfully submerged, the car did float across the pool and drive itself out. So, how come this Model X melted down? 

The otherworldly footage got posted by the YouTube channel Drive Tesla Canada. The bizarre clip briefly shows the murky water of a Spanish marina boiling and smoking 12 hours after a supposedly fully-charged Tesla Model X plunged into the water. 

We don’t have much context for the accident. There is little information from the poster, according to CarScoops. However, the context for how the Model X wound up in the drink may help explain why the seemingly biblical scene occurred. 

What could make that much water boil? 

As they say, “a watched pot never boils.” However, whoever came up with that little phrase never considered high-powered batteries combusting. 

As we have seen with electric bikes and other battery-powered devices, these batteries can become highly volatile if scored, dented, or otherwise damaged. It could be that something like that had happened to our water-logged Model X in the video. Or, the fact that it was submerged for so long may also have contributed to the meltdown. 

Another YouTuber, Rich Rebuilds, bought a flooded Tesla Model S after Hurricane Sandy. The wiring and modules were so corroded from the lingering saltwater that one of the modules started exploding as he began disassembly. Electronics and water will forever be a volatile mixture regardless of advancing technology. 

What makes batteries so volatile? 

Lithium is one of the key components used in building batteries. It is also the element that reacts the most violently with water. Lithium creates a massive amount of heat (boiling the sea?) when it’s exposed to water. 

If the Tesla Model X had been in a crash or somehow had its battery damaged, hitting the water could very well cause a violent reaction and the subsequent transformation from a peaceful marina to a witch’s cauldron. 

How did they get the Tesla Model X out of the boiling water? 


Tesla’s Often Forgotten Model Is Getting Lighter and Even More Powerful According to Secret Document

Thankfully, the incident happened at a marina where plenty of equipment is capable of hoisting the car out of the water. Once the water stopped boiling, divers went down and hooked the Tesla up to the crane, and hoisted it out.