We published an article on a video of a Tesla Model S going through a flooded tunnel over the weekend and Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, shared the article on his popular Twitter account. He then followed up with an interesting Tweet:
If curious abt TSWLM car, am still planning to do a sports sub car that can drive on roads. Just a side project. Limited market potential 🙂
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 19, 2016
TSWLM is the acronym of the title for the 1977 James Bond movie ‘The Spy Who Loved Me‘. In the movie, Bond was driving a modified Lotus Esprit that could change into a submarine. The vehicle they used in the movie was lost for years, but it was eventually found in a storage locker bought for $100 and three years ago, Elon Musk secretly bought it for ~$900,000 in a bidding war with another car collector.
While they did modify the vehicle for the production, it can’t really be used as a submarine like in the movie, but Musk plans to change that.
The unique Lotus Esprit is now parked in Tesla’s Design Studio in Hawthorne, California. It’s not only around to inspire the troops – Tesla’s CEO is making a side project out of it as mentioned in the tweet above.
In an interview following his purchase of the Lotus, Elon made it clear that it is a “low priority project” but that he also really want to see it happen:
“We want to see if we can make it do what it appears to do in the movie for real.”
Here’s the scene in question:
It’s not clear if Musk also plans to include a missile launcher, but it wouldn’t be too surprising considering his movie villain tendencies:
If this works, I'm treating myself to a volcano lair. It's time.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 15, 2015
In all seriousness and missile launcher aside of course, it would make for a pretty cool vehicle. Tesla’s powertrain is already sealed so it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to make it power a propulsion system that works both on road and water.
The lack of necessary air intake is also particularly helpful for the latter.
The transition from road configuration to water or underwater configuration is probably the most difficult part, but it is an interesting engineering and design challenge for Elon and Tesla engineers.