Answer: Yes, Electric vehicles catch fire. All cars catch fire. Data suggests that EVs actually do so at a rate lower than comparable gasoline vehicles.
There is a lot of commotion and spilled ink regarding electric cars and whether they have a higher or chance of catching fire. Whenever an electric car catches fire somewhere in the US, it always makes headlines. Those headlines are highly sensational, hyped by Detroid and largely anecdotal. So many gasoline cars catch fire that it’s no longer even newsworthy.
The truth is that Electric cars have only been around in any practically applicable number for several years so there isn’t a LOT of data to study. But what data we do have provides a strong hint that EVs are actually statistically less likely to catch fire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded in 2017 that “The propensity and severity of fires and explosions from … Lithium-ion battery systems are anticipated to be somewhat comparable to or perhaps slightly less than those for gasoline or diesel vehicular fuels”. According to data from Tesla, Teslas experience about 5 vehicle fires per Billion miles driven compared to 55 vehicle fires over the same distance driven in gasoline cars. Certainly Tesla has a horse in the race here, but what they are saying does comport (at least in flavor) with the findings by the 2017 NHTSA traffic study. When you hear about vehicle fires, read them critically. Identify the source of the article to try to figure out if its related to the traditional auto industry. If so, the article is probably a fear mongering hit job.