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Elon Musk Plans to Make His 007 Submarine Car Real

The founder of Tesla Motors plans to convert his submarine car prop from a 007 film into the real thing

2 min read
Elon Musk Plans to Make His 007 Submarine Car Real

Most car collectors would relish the chance to buy the submarine car prop from a 1970s James Bond film and keep it for their eyes only. But mere ownership is not enough for Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors, who wants to make the Hollywood sci-fi dream into a real working vehicle.

The submarine car prop is a car only in name with fins, propellers and no wheels. It represented the working submarine version of several prop vehicles used to depict the Lotus Esprit that served as 007's transforming ride from the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me—a fantastical vision that inspired Musk to secretly buy the vehicle for US $967,120 at auction in September. Musk has now revealed his plans to upgrade his purchase in an attempt to make a vehicle capable of driving on roads as well as traveling underwater, according to USA Today.

"I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform," Musk said in an email to USA Today. "What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real."

That sounds like an appropriate side project for Musk, who has made headlines in recent years with his SpaceX private rockets, popular Tesla Motor electric cars, and dream of a "Hyperloop" transportation system that would send passenger pods whizzing along through tubes. The latest news came after he was recently unmasked by as the mystery buyer of the 007 prop.

Still, Musk was not the only person to have the idea of turning 007's submersible car into reality—nor will he be the first to make it happen. Swiss designer Rinspeed unveiled its "sQuba" concept car inspired by the James Bond vehicle during the Geneva Auto Show back in 2008.

The sQuba can chug along at 3 kilometers/h underwater at depths of about 10 meters. But its open top design means that passengers must resign themselves to wearing goggles and underwater breathing gear. Perhaps Musk's version of the submersible car will go one better by keeping its passengers dry.

Photo: Tim Scott / RM Auctions

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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