Cars

The sQuba Car Can Go Under Water

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.

Rinspeed’s new model, the sQuba, the world’s first real submersible car is displayed on March 4, 2008 during the press days at the Geneva car show. The zero-emission electric sports car, with power supplied by rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries, can perform a submerged stabile flight at a depth of 10 meters. AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS RATZENBOECK (Photo by NICHOLAS RATZENBOECK / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS RATZENBOECK/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

ZUMIKON, SWITZERLAND – AUGUST 12, 2019 AN INNOVATIVE car design company has created the only real submarine car in the world. Car designer Frank M. Rinderknecht, aged 64, and his team at Swiss mobility lab Rinspeed have been creating incredible concept cars for more than four decades. Company founder Frank told Barcroft TV: ‘We’re building exciting concept cars to illustrate the future of mobility’. And there is one car in the Rinspeed collection that is by far the most sought-after vehicle for film and photography. The ‘sQuba’ is the world’s first real submersible car capable of driving seamlessly from land to underwater. The idea originated from the Lotus submarine car nicknamed ‘Wet Nellie’ which James Bond drove in the iconic 1977 film, The Spy Who Loved Me. But as Frank points out: ‘The idea came from James Bond, but it was fiction, it was Hollywood, it never really happened. So, our claim was to put all that fiction into reality. And we made it happen.’ Frank and his team spent nearly 30 years creating a real diving car. In 2008, they revealed the sQuba, an electric powered 2-seat roadster based on the Lotus Elise. The exterior of the car stayed the same, but the interior and all its technology completely changed. The combustion engine was removed and replaced by three electric motors. One provides propulsion on land, the other two drive the screws for underwater motoring. The sQuba is a zero-emission, all electric vehicle. The biggest difference between the fictional ‘Wet Nellie’ and the sQuba is the fact that 007 kept his hair dry, but the sQuba is a convertible. As the vehicle dives in the open, it has compressed air tanks for people to breathe through, and interior material that dries off quickly. While a submersible convertible might not sound like the best idea, there is a good reason behind the design. Frank told Barcroft TV: ‘In the original James Bond movie the car was closed, yet this is extremely difficult, because it would add a lot more weight to

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.

ZUMIKON, SWITZERLAND – AUGUST 12, 2019 AN INNOVATIVE car design company has created the only real submarine car in the world. Car designer Frank M. Rinderknecht, aged 64, and his team at Swiss mobility lab Rinspeed have been creating incredible concept cars for more than four decades. Company founder Frank told Barcroft TV: ‘We’re building exciting concept cars to illustrate the future of mobility’. And there is one car in the Rinspeed collection that is by far the most sought-after vehicle for film and photography. The ‘sQuba’ is the world’s first real submersible car capable of driving seamlessly from land to underwater. The idea originated from the Lotus submarine car nicknamed ‘Wet Nellie’ which James Bond drove in the iconic 1977 film, The Spy Who Loved Me. But as Frank points out: ‘The idea came from James Bond, but it was fiction, it was Hollywood, it never really happened. So, our claim was to put all that fiction into reality. And we made it happen.’ Frank and his team spent nearly 30 years creating a real diving car. In 2008, they revealed the sQuba, an electric powered 2-seat roadster based on the Lotus Elise. The exterior of the car stayed the same, but the interior and all its technology completely changed. The combustion engine was removed and replaced by three electric motors. One provides propulsion on land, the other two drive the screws for underwater motoring. The sQuba is a zero-emission, all electric vehicle. The biggest difference between the fictional ‘Wet Nellie’ and the sQuba is the fact that 007 kept his hair dry, but the sQuba is a convertible. As the vehicle dives in the open, it has compressed air tanks for people to breathe through, and interior material that dries off quickly. While a submersible convertible might not sound like the best idea, there is a good reason behind the design. Frank told Barcroft TV: ‘In the original James Bond movie the car was closed, yet this is extremely difficult, because it would add a lot more weight to

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.