16 new Volksagen e-Golf sedans began patrolling the streets of Paris this past week. They are part of a one year experiment to determine the suitability of electric cars for the demands of police work, according to New Mobility. “We will evaluate with our police officers on a regular base to see if the cars meet expectations,” says Jean-Loup Chaluleau, deputy director of logistics at the Paris police department. “And we will add more vehicles and extend the lease as a function of that.”
The electric patrol cars will be used in all districts of Paris except three that do not have an adequate charging infrastructure at this time. Those districts will use hybrid vehicles instead. Paris is one of many world cities that is struggling to reduce pollution from automobiles. The city banned older diesel-powered cars from its streets after smog obscured the Eiffel Tower one day last year and has announced it wants to ban all cars with internal combustion engines by 2030.
Some might question why the Paris police opted for cars made in Germany when French company Renault also builds electric cars like the popular Zoe. Renault’s global partner Nissan also makes the best selling electric car of all time, the LEAF. The answer is that neither the Zoe nor the LEAF have the 250 kilometers of range the department consider necessary. It also wanted a car that could carry four police officers with all their gear. The Zoe is a delightful car — it is the best selling electric car in France — but is too small inside for so many gendarmes.
Los Angeles, which is committed to lowering its citywide carbon footprint, is leasing a fleet of 100 electric BMW i3 sedans for its police department. The cars are mostly being used for administrative purposes as they are not capable of high-speed pursuit duty. Police in London are also evaluating the i3 for use by its officers. The Dubai police opted for the BMW i8 to ensure pursuit capability. And the LAPD does also use the Tesla Model S and its impressive power.
Police vehicles are subject to far more rigorous usage than ordinary cars. They are often in constant service for 12 hours or more every day. They need to be absolutely reliable and capable of being fitted with the electronic devices that have become part and parcel of modern police work. If electric cars can keep up with the demands of police work, they can save departments money because they typically cost less to maintain and are cheaper to operate. Ford is anxious to crack the police market and is offering a version of its Fusion plug-in hybrid that has been specially modified to meet the needs of state and local police departments.
It’s all part of the slow but steady transition from conventional cars to electric cars. Police officers who drive electric police cars will discover the benefits of driving an electric car and will tell their friends and colleagues about them, which will move the electric car revolution forward. Someday soon, electric police cars will be the norm rather than the exception.