- California’s Fremont Police Department will roll out a Tesla Model S that has been retrofitted for patrol operations as part of a pilot to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. While the pilot only tests one vehicle, the city will monitor performance, durability, range and costs to evaluate its success.
- The department found that the Tesla was the only electric vehicle (EV) that had the sufficient size, performance and battery range to work as a patrol vehicle. The car was outfitted with equipment like a light bar, ballistic barriers and a push bumper to make it patrol-ready.
- The car and equipment cost around $66,000, far more than the $40,000 a Ford Explorer would cost for the department. However, the Explorer typically uses $32,000 in gas and $15,000 in maintenance over a five-year lifespan, and the department says it expects electric vehicles to last longer because of the reduced mechanical issues.
The purchase is part of Fremont’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% of 2005 levels by the year 2020, and shows how creative cities are getting in order to meet climate change goals. In a statement, Fremont Police Captain Sean Washington said that the unit’s vehicle fleet is responsible for 980 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year; employing electric vehicles, he said, could eliminate 10% all municipal GHG emissions.
Although EVs offer plenty of promise in reducing emissions, many city fleets serve specific purposes that standard EVs may not be able to meet. It’s similar to the struggle some cities have found in trying to implement electric buses — the technology may not be there yet to phase out gas-powered cars that must meet certain specifications. Police patrol vehicles must have long ranges for irregular routes and emergencies, which has limited EV adoption (some departments have used EVs for parking enforcement or administrative duties).
Automakers have looked to innovate police fleets; Chevrolet has pushed its Bolt EV as an option for patrol cars, citing its use in Hyattsville, MD. Ford last year applied for a patent for an autonomous police car, which it said could detect unlawful behavior and chase offending vehicles, or even write tickets.