Big news from Tesla today - Tesla either asked for, or the NHTSA decided, that the govt. would officially investigate if Tesla has a problem with vehicle fires. Tesla's immediate response was to add new warranty coverage adding vehicle fires being completely covered.
There are have three fires after serious accidents. One fire was after a Tesla crashed through a couple of concrete walls, destroying them in the process and damaging the car. There were two cases where cars hit large heavy pieces of metal on the freeway, and the car asked them to pull over and then within 15 minutes or so caught fire.
Just as gas cars have safety features to reduce vehicle fires, Tesla's have fire compartments and steel protecting the battery compartment.
With their exotic nature, and electric cars being a bit less common, the danger of fire is a little bit less understood than fire that comes from gas cars. Did you know that amazingly, gas cars catch on fire an average of 17 times per hour or about 150,000 gas vehicle fires per calendar year, just in the US. And we now have 3 burning Tesla.
Several articles (http://www.plugincars.com/third-model-s-car-fire-5-weeks-following-accident-nashville-128802.html
) tried to figure out the math between the number of Teslas and miles driven, vs. the huge number of gas cars and miles driven per year and factor in fire accidents and came up with about a computation of Tesla's having 1/5 the number of fire accidents. I think its a little early to say, and its hardly a fair comparison since Tesla has a very modern safe design, vs. the many much less safe older cars on the market.
It's interesting to think about how much energy a gas car contains in the gas vs the electric potential of the batteries - a gallon of gas has the same energy as about 33.6 kwh, and the largest tesla battery has not quite the energy of 3 gallons of gas. Of course other parts of cars burn, like tires, and the Tesla lithium batteries are a potential concern. In case you were wondering, electric cars are a lot more efficient at converting electrical energy into motion, that's why they need lots less; and gas is a very efficient storage mechanism for energy in itself.