By Kalina Van Vlack

AN INNOVATIVE car design company has created the world’s only real submarine car

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Videographer / director: Bob Callway
Producer:  Kalina Van Vlack
Editor: Alex Lubetkin​

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. 

Closely watched by the automotive industry, Rinspeed’s inventions are often used as inspiration for commercial car manufacturing.

Where the moneymaking car industry have their limits within automotive design and development, Rinspeed acts as a creative think tank, specializing in making the impossible possible. 

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 stands out of the crowd and which is by far the most sought-after vehicle for film and photography.

The “sQuba” is the world’s first and only 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 and “dove” 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.” 

“The sQuba is the only real diving car in the world. It’s the biggest milestone in our history.”

Frank and his team spent nearly 30 years conceptualizing and 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 probably the fact that Mr. 007 kept his hair dry, but this is not the case when diving with the Rinspeed’s car, as the sQuba is a convertible. 

As the vehicle dives in the open, and it has conductions to compressed air tanks for people to breathe through, and has 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 physically this is extremely difficult, because it would add a lot more weight to the vehicle and add unsafety.”

“So we decided to dive in the open.”

According to Rinspeed’s findings, a closed car would have been two tons heavier, making it too heavy for normal driving. 

What really sets the sQuba apart from any military vehicles capable of functioning underwater, is that the vehicle doesn’t need to drive over the submerged ground to move forward, it is capable of stabilized floating at a dept of 10 metres (33 ft).

As Frank says; “The favorite feature of the sQuba is the diving, it’s the experience of floating underwater within the vehicle.

“Once you’ve done that it’s really out of this world.”