Crossing flooded areas is a huge challenge for combustion-engined cars. There is always a high risk of hydrolock, or hydrostatic lock. That is what happens when an incompressible substance meets an almost unstoppable force. Pistons break when water gets inside their cylinders. EVs have no cylinders – BEVs, at least. And they do not fear water the same way ICE cars do, as this video from KSFY News makes evident.
The reporter Colton Molesky is talking about a flooded area in Mitchell, South Dakota, when a Tesla Model X decides it can cross the artificial and unwanted pond. Molesky says he encourages people not to do the same, but all he gets is to run from the waves created by the electric CUV.
Just follow the video with close attention. Water almost covers the hood of the car. A regular vehicle would have stopped right at the beginning of the crossing with a broken engine unless it was equipped with a snorkel.
So SUVs are invulnerable to water? Not quite, as the videos from Out of Spec Motoring on Gruber Motors show. Many of the Model S units that the shop buys to recover became junkyard material after floodings.
The battery pack, ECUs, and the wiring harnesses can suffer corrosion and faulty contacts when exposed to water. Short circuits could also occur, so Molesky’s advice are valid even for the Model X that did not agree with him.
Off-road electric vehicles – such as the B1 and B2 Bollinger Motors will manufacture – will probably feature extra protection to terminals and connectors to allow them to have a respectful wading depth.
The low center of mass offered by battery packs under the floor of the cars would also help in crossed flooded areas, helping to prevent it from floating, for example.
Will the white Model X face future problems for crossing the flooded Mitchell street? That is very likely but, for the time being, we bet its owner is just proud of making waves with live TV broadcasting. Tesla must be proud as well.