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Under pressure economically as well environmentally, governments are seeing savings in ditching fossil-fuel cars.
Police departments specialize in protecting the public, not the environment. But around the country and the world, they’re beginning to add electric vehicles to their fleets of squad cars—partly because they’re seeing cost savings in ditching fossil-fuel vehicles.
Last week, the Spokane, Washington police department presented a report to the city council on the performance of two Tesla Model Y vehicles it has been using in a limited way since March. The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that the department predicted the Tesla will eventually cost $0.69 per mile driven, compared with $0.77 for a hybrid vehicle and $0.79 for a gas-powered car—a difference of $7,000 or more over four years.
The downside was that a small sample of department employees gave relatively low ratings to the Tesla for comfort, reliability, storage and safety. Police officials stressed the results were very preliminary.
Officers might have to get used to EVs, if for no other reason than what the Spokane police found about cost savings. Officer.com reported earlier this year that in 2019, Bargersville, Indiana police chief Todd Bertram ran into a roadblock when he made a pitch to the town council to hire two additional officers. There just wasn’t enough money in the budget. He began hunting for savings, and discovered that his biggest cost item next to staff salaries and benefits was fuel.
That’s when Bertram began looking at electric vehicle options for squad cars. The $79,000 price tag for a Tesla Model S was too rich, but the Model 3 at $42,000 was more affordable. The department bought one and quickly had it outfitted for police use. Then they added when an officer’s gas-powered vehicle was totaled in a crash.
Bargersville now has five Teslas, and Bertram says they save about $64,000 per car per year.
In late 2020, the town of Hastings-on-Hudson in suburban New York City laid claim to being the first police department in the nation to use the Tesla Model Y, a crossover sport utility vehicle, according to Treehugger. Now the department is trying to go green with its whole fleet.
Fremont, California was an early adopter of EVs, outfitting a Model S as a police cruiser in 2018. The vehicle is still in use up to 11 hours a day, Police1 reported last week.
Teslas are the vehicles of choice for many police departments because of their high performance and maneuverability. But other EVs in police use or testing include the Ford Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning truck, and even the compact Chevy Bolt.