Tesla Cybertruck Wade Mode lifts the truck, pressurizes battery for water

Tesla’s Cybertruck has more surprises. X user Nic Cruz Patane posted on a feature he found in the pickup’s Off-Road Baja settings called “Wade Mode.” Wait a minute — before we get into that, can we discuss how unusual (putting it mildly) it was for Tesla to leave so much out of its presentation on the most anticipated pickup of the last five years? We had to go to the web site to get specs. We had to wait until the next day for real info on accessories. A week later, the Cybertruck page doesn’t contain information on the Off-Road Modes that include two we can see in the picture in the X post — Overland and Baja. A slider lower down on the same page marked “Handling Balance” changes the distribution of some unknown quantity from front to rear. What appears to be fine-grained in-cabin operator control of some aspect of handling balance in a pickup is novel, potentially fascinating, and maybe even useful. As one commenter said in response to Patane’s post, “Why didn’t they show this at the Cybertruck event!”

Back to Wade Mode, which appears at the bottom of said page. The explanatory sentence under the selector reads, “Raises ride height and pressurizes battery when driving through water.” At the moment, nothing more is known about the mode.

Anyone who remembers Tesla CEO Elon Musk pitching the Cybertruck as a personal watercraft. In an X post from September 29, 2022, he wrote, “Cybertruck will be waterproof enough to serve briefly as a boat, so it can cross rivers, lakes & even seas that aren’t too choppy.” In a second post from the same day, Musk wrote, “Needs be able to get from Starbase to South Padre Island, which requires crossing the channel.”

Starbase is in Boca Chica, Texas. The channel is the Brazos Santiago Pass, which Wikipedia says is 42 feet deep, a quarter of a mile wide between parallel jetties forming a breakwater, and 1.14 miles at its greatest point. Even though Musk said the Cybertruck will float, given no obvious air tanks or sealable voids to create buoyancy and no obvious means of propulsion once in the water, we have no idea how the 6,000-pound Cybertruck could safely and intentionally navigate a body of water 1,320 feet across and 42 feet deep. That’s not to say this is impossible. In October 2022, Musk posted again on the subject, “You’d need an electric propeller mounted on the tow hitch to go faster than a few knots.” Or, who knows, Tesla could unveil a $23,000 Cyberbeast Airboat Package. Which could be pretty effing cool.

Wading is what we were talking about, though. Tesla hasn’t uploaded off-road specs to its retail site, so we don’t know what the Cybertruck’s relevant trail angles are. We aren’t aware of any production vehicle, pickup or not, that needs to prepare itself to ford water, though, so we’re hoping the wading spec gets our attention.

We’re just as lost as everyone else about pressurizing the battery pack, so we turned to Patrick Durham, the engineer and fire department captain whose video helped make sense of the Tesla Model X that burned underwater next to a Florida boat ramp. When we asked a general question about the water-resistance of a battery pack and the idea of pressurizing a pack, he told us, “Your question is challenging to answer because each battery pack is uniquely constructed…  All battery packs should be watertight, but they also require mechanisms to cope with atmospheric pressure changes. Each pack employs a slightly different strategy, with some being more robust than others. At this time I have not seen a mechanism for pressurizing the battery compartment in any other vehicle.” When we asked how the idea of watertight is reconciled with the necessity of dealing with pressure changes, he wrote that there are various methods to plug pack openings and allow the pack to breathe, but that ultimately, “watertight would be normal circumstances.” As in, everyday weather. “Being fully submerged,” he added, “would likely be outside of the design specifications.” Except in the case of the Cybertruck. Maybe.

We have a feeling the Cybertruck has a lot more Easter eggs and surprises for us, especially when owners start uploading videos of testing the Cybertruck’s limits since Tesla won’t tell us yet what those limits are.

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