Electric cars and car fires seem to be in the news for all the wrong reasons. On 21 April, a parked Tesla Model S in Shanghai, China caught fire for no apparent reason in a parking lot. CCTV footage shows flames suddenly emerging from the car and then it continued to spread.Tesla is reportedly investigating the cause of the fire.A few months ago, a Tesla Model S in a parking lot in Los Gatos in the US, caught on fire on its own. It was towed to a yard, where it apparently re-ignited.Tesla Model S Catches Fire in the US, Reignites a Few Hours LaterThere have been other reports of electric cars catching fire, most of them Tesla’s after being involved in a crash. However, in the above cases there are no crashes involved. But it’s not just Tesla.In the second season of The Grand Tour web series on Amazon Prime, presenter Richard Hammond crashed and rolled a Rimac Concept 1 electric car during the filming of a speed run up a hill. The car reportedly kept burning for three days!Why does that happen? It’s the batteries.Unlike petrol or diesel powered cars, where there fire is easier to control once the fuel has burned up, it’s not that easy with lithium-ion battery powered cars. Even after the flames have been extinguished, the batteries still contain energy and keep sparking, reigniting the car again and again.Water, used to put out fires, can cause short circuits, leading to more sparking, according to firefighters. Foam or power-based fire extinguishing material is preferred for electric car fires. That’s the same requirement for petrol-powered cars too.So are electric cars more dangerous? Tesla maintains that electric cars are as safe as internal-combustion engine powered cars.The only difference is that if the battery pack catches fire – mainly due to external factors like a crash or a puncture due to some debris – it takes longer to put out.Since 2013 there have been at least 14 reported Tesla fires, according to a Reuters report. However, there probably have been far more cars with regular internal-combustion engines catching fire since then.The risk is the same, whether it’s electric or petrol-powered.Tesla isn’t in India yet, but Elon Musk has said it will be coming to India soon.Tesla Catches Fire in the US, Faulty Battery Probable Cause We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.