LAPD to begin testing its Tesla fleet for use as a patrol car

A year after Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti first announced that the city will begin testing a pair of Tesla Model S for use within its police force, the department is ready to take the vehicles to the next level by gearing them for patrol car use.

Earlier tests of the two Model S P85D on loan to the LAPD from Tesla determined that the vehicles have adequate range and performance needed for patrol duty, however suffered from a price tag that is substantially higher than the typical patrol car. But as Los Angeles continues to campaign for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before 2050, so are the divisions operating within the city of angels.

Vartan Yegiyan, the assistant commander of the department’s administrative services bureau, tells NBC Channel 4 that Tesla will work with the department to retrofit that car with the radios, computer, custody cage, locking shotgun rack, and other equipment normally found in a patrol car. After the accessories are installed, the car will be placed into service as a patrol car to see how it stands up to the rigors of police duty. Yegiyan says the car will be tested in the field by an on-duty patrol sergeant who will be driving to emergencies and possibly even take part in pursuits of suspects.

Though the Model S is far too expensive to replace its fleet of conventional patrol cars, the police department usually looks five years down the road when considering the purchase of future cars for its fleet. Yegiyan says the department would prefer to choose electric cars for its patrol fleet in five years if any are available that are affordable. Electric patrol cars would help the department meet the city’s overall carbon reduction goals.

Mayor Garcetti says the electric cars will cost less to maintain and operate than conventional cars. They will also play an important role in the city’s campaign to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before the year 2050. “Today, we take another step toward becoming the most sustainable city in America,” the mayor told reporters. “This year, Los Angeles will become home to the largest city-owned fleet of pure battery electric vehicles anywhere in the country, and we will save taxpayer dollars along the way.”

The city will be expanding its electric car charging infrastructure in the coming years to service its existing fleet of electric and plug-in hybrid cars it is now using, which includes one hundred battery electric BMW i3s. If electric patrol cars become economically feasible, the LAPD will already have the charging system needed to keep them in service.

The experiment is in Tesla’s interests as the LAPD says it is willing to share what it learns with other law enforcement agencies. If Tesla can satisfy the needs of one of the largest police departments in the country in both performance and price, that could open a significant new market for the company.

LAPD to begin testing its Tesla fleet for use as a patrol car
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