Cars that drive on the road and the water seem to only exist in the movies, but what if we told you that Rinspeed created a concept car that is completely submersible. It’s a car…it’s submarine…it’s…the Rinspeed sQuba.
Rinspeed is a Swiss automaker known for its restoration of classic cars and modification of popular sports cars from Porsche and Subaru. Rinspeed didn’t choose any of these options for an underwater concept car. Instead, they chose to base the sQuba off of the Lotus Elise. The CEO of Rinspeed, Frank M. Rinderknecht, took inspiration for the aquatic car from the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me, which featured a getaway Lotus Esprit that could drive straight from the road to the water.
The fact that this modified Elise goes underwater isn’t the only interesting thing about it. The car, originally having a small, tuned Toyota engine, was converted to a fully electric car, and instead of just replacing the one motor it actually has three electric motors. After all, having a traditional combustion engine underwater doesn’t sound very ideal. The sQuba doesn’t run all three motors at the same time. One motor, used for land-only driving, powers the rear-wheels and shuts off when the car goes into the aquatic mode. On land, the car has a top speed of only 75mph.
Driving down a boat ramp and into the water might be a little anxiety-inducing for first-time aquatic car drivers, but the sQuba floats along the surface of the water. When the driver is ready, they can initiate a flood sequence that causes parts of the car to fill with water, making it heavy enough to be submerged, and it can go as deep as 33ft. That’s probably deeper than most people would feel comfortable driving a car, after all, our brains are hardwired to believe cars don’t go underwater, but the sQuba is as safe as a shallow-water submarine.
With the land-motor off, the sQuba has two additional electric motors for aquatic use. These two electric motors power the car’s propellers and water jets that allow it to move around on the surface of the water and below the water. The propellers are mounted to the rear of the car, allowing it to push forward at a completely submersed top speed of just under 2mph and across the surface of the water at almost 4mph. With speeds that slow, the sQuba was designed more as a novelty toy than an actual mode of transportation, and you’d be more likely to take it for a slow, relaxing cruise than attempting to actually go anywhere on the water with it.
The sQuba has a minimal interior designed to be both water and salt resistant so that it can be driven in freshwater or saltwater without any major concern. The small convertible can fit one driver and a passenger and, because the cabin of the car is filled with water, they breathe using a built-in scuba air regulator, and the open cabin allows the driver and passenger to escape quickly and easily in case of emergency, though Rinspeed assures the car is safe enough to operate without cause for concern.
Rinspeed has not released any information regarding the production of the sQuba or what the cost could be, but we are guessing it’s going to cost a lot more than an average Honda Civic. For such a niche vehicle it is likely that the sQuba will be produced in limited quantities, and most people probably won’t find any need to own one, but it is still cool to see something iconic form a James Bond movie come to life.