However, a video has now emerged that appears to show an electric car powering its way through a flooded tunnel.
The footage suggests that the Tesla Model S could be used as a boat in an emergency.
But the manufacturer’s chief executive insists the move is definitely not being recommended to drivers.
The video shows a motorist navigating his Model S through a flooded tunnel in Almaty, the biggest city in Kazakhstan.
And while petrol and diesel-driven vehicles are brought to a standstill by the floodwater, the electric car appears to get through the tunnel and on to the road at the other side without any problems.
The footage shows water lapping over the car’s bonnet as it “drives” through the tunnel and appears to show it powering through the flood using the thrust of its turning wheels.
However, it is not known if the car suffered any damage from its journey through the floodwater, which had been caused by torrential rain.
Tweeting his response to the film, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk says the car “floats well enough to turn it into a boat for short periods of time”.
Copying the manoeuvre, though, he adds on Twitter, is definitely not being recommended to motorists by Tesla.
Unlike conventional cars, electric ones do not have an exhaust that becomes flooded and stops the engine running when drivers attempt to take them through water that is more than a few inches deep.
Battery packs in the Model S are sealed, but motorists are being warned that submerging an electric car in water could cause damage to other parts of their vehicle.
Launched in 2012, the five-door Tesla Model S was the world’s biggest selling electric car last year.
By December 2015 more than 100,000 had been sold worldwide and the company has said it plans to build up to 90,000 this year.