Fremont police double down on Tesla patrol vehicles after year-long pilot program

More than a year after making headlines for becoming the first police agency in the nation to put a Tesla on patrol, the Fremont Police Department has doubled down on its hometown automaker and bought a second one of the company’s fast, sleek, and quiet electric cars.

The department bought a 2020 Tesla Model Y in July, but made no public announcement at the time, though a police official said the city council had been privately briefed on the purchase in advance.

The purchase came four months before the department publicly issued the results of its pilot program study to determine if the 2014 Tesla Model S the department started using last year was a worthy investment.

In the study results released Thursday, the department said its one-year pilot program from March 2019 to March 2020 showed that electric vehicles can put up with the rigors of police work, and that “expansion of electric patrol vehicles is a feasible option.”

Switching to electric vehicles also drastically reduces the amount of greenhouse gas the city is responsible for emitting, though the report noted some distinct challenges departments could face if making the conversion.

Over a five-year period, the used 2014 Tesla Model S will cost Fremont about $132,758 to own and operate, about $17,000 more expensive than a typical Ford Utility Interceptor would, police calculated in their report.

The Model S purchase price of about $61,000 was significantly higher than a roughly $40,000 police-ready Ford, and the Tesla required custom modifications that racked up to nearly $7,000 over what it would cost to outfit a Ford for police use, police said.

“There was no playbook,” for how to get a Tesla ready for police use, Capt. Sean Washington said.

The brand new 2020 Model Y was purchased for about $57,000, police said, and modifications are still being made.

The used Tesla also had to be tested before use on the street, and Washington said in an interview the Model S went through some extra tires while being put through its paces at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office test course, which added to its startup costs, though some of those could be eliminated in the future.

However, the Tesla outperformed the Ford in some annual metrics during the pilot program, which helped even out the costs.

Police said the cost to charge the Tesla was about a fifth of the cost of fueling a patrol vehicle annually, and it was off the road 27 fewer days than the Fords were for maintenance.

Washington believes both the used and new Teslas will last longer than the typical five years police cars do before being replaced, and could have a higher resale value down the road, which could also drive costs of ownership down further.

“This is the exact purpose of the pilot program,” Washington said.

“Even after 12 months there are still unknowns out there, but the evidence is suggesting that we could see savings,” he said.

Washington said the Model S is “great,” but has some challenges, including that taller officers don’t fit in it very easily, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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