The Spokane Police Department will buy four Tesla Model Y vehicles as per the city council’s orders. Despite the advice of city officials, the council voted earlier this week to purchase the vehicles, which overrode a plan to buy two hybrid and two traditional gas-powered vehicles. The Spokesman-Review noted that the Spokane City Council actually forced the Spokane Police Department to purchase the Model Ys.
Council President Breean Beggs was the force behind the Tesla purchase. He bemoaned the city’s hesitation to build out EV infrastructure despite a state law requiring local governments to start replacing old vehicles with electric models “to the extent practicable by 2018.” However, he still has hope that the EVs will do well for the police department.
“This is a great time to pilot this and see how it works,” he said. “It would take essentially one charger to be installed.”
Following the vote, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist noted that the administration is planning on its next steps moving forward. “The administration remains concerned about this purchase because of the high cost and lack of EV charging infrastructure to support these vehicles as well as the time that they would be unavailable for use due to charging,” she said.
The four Model Y vehicles will cost around $418,088, and a grant will cover $200,000 of that cost. Although Begg knows that Spokane has been hesitating with the idea of transitioning to electric vehicles for over a year, he’s been pushing it. In 2019, he proposed an ordinance that would require the city to comply with the state law and transition to either electric or biofuel vehicles. However, he held off because city staff gave assurances that they would be moving forward in a matter of months.
The city’s chief financial officer, Tonya Wallace, wasn’t too keen on mandating the electric vehicle purchase due to the city’s lack of a broader electrification plan. “We all understand that electrification of the fleet is the direction we’re going, and we just need to roll up our sleeves and get that plan developed,” she said.
One issue is that the city doesn’t have employees who are trained in the maintenance of electric vehicles. The city will also need to install more charging stations if it wants to expand its fleet of electric vehicles. Beggs deflected with the fact that electric vehicles will last longer than traditional fossil fueled vehicles while requiring less maintenance.
I think that the city will discover just how convenient and easy the transition to electric truly is once they experience the Model Y.
After the recent world-record Tesla parade, one of my close friends who didn’t understand the Tesla hype got to test drive the Model Y. After his experience, he told me that he understands what the fuss is all about. “Tesla is the future of cars,” he said, while exclaiming his awe as to how quiet the vehicle was compared to his gasoline vehicle. He told me that when he can afford it, he’ll upgrade.
Beggs’ voice and his support for EVs is truly an inspiration and shouldn’t go unnoticed. It’s good to see advocates for clean energy pushing for much-needed change in the local levels of government.
Photo by Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica