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Clean Transport

Police Departments Invest In Teslas To Save Fuel $$

When will your local law enforcement agency add a Tesla to its automotive fleet?

Cities looking to do right by their communities on climate are greening their expenditures, and that goal is made a lot easier when town treasurers assess fuel savings — the Teslas clearly outpace other vehicles in long-term fiscal prudence. With established reliability, performance, and affordability, more police departments are turning to all-electric Teslas as viable transportation options for patrol and detective duties.

The NYPD has added a new eco-friendly ride to its fleet: a Tesla Model 3. The cost of the electric vehicle was $47,740. It will be used by the department’s highway patrol division. The price tag of the new Tesla is considerably less than a Ford Police Interceptor, which runs around $58,000.

The all-wheel-drive all-electric Model 3 has a range of about 350 miles on a single charge and does 0-to-60 mph in 4.2 seconds.

The department, which acquired the vehicle in June, 2021, said the long-range version of the car “is optimized for police highway patrol operations.”

The NYPD paid around $40,000 for each of the nearly 400 Ford Police Responder Hybrid sedans it bought in fiscal year 2020. “The NYPD continually assesses new technology,” a police spokesperson said. “This includes hybrid and electric vehicles for possible inclusion in our fleet.”

Tesla Savings Allow Police Departments More Salary Latitude

“It was pretty simple,” Todd Bertram, police chief of Bargersville, Indiana, declared. “We needed to save a lot of money because we wanted to hire more officers,” who can cost upward of $100,000 per head. “Salaries and wages and fuel and maintenance are the two biggest things we spend our money on.”

Bargersville — with a population of just under 8,000 — has 14 cars in its fleet, which includes cruisers and trucks. Before acquiring its first Model 3, those had been Dodge Chargers and Durangos. Bertram’s analysis for the Model 3 determined that the department would save about $6,000 per year, with a break-even point of about 24 months. So, after consultation with the city council, the department eventually decided to buy a Tesla, citing both its performance and the cost-savings potential.

In 2018, the department spent $60,000 in fuel. The 2021 budget only called for $25,000 in fuel costs, in contrast.

Significant Fuel Savings Anticipated

Other police departments have also bought Teslas and say they expect thousands of dollars in savings on gas.

The Hastings-on-Hudson (NY) Police Department added a Tesla Model Y cruiser to its fleet last December. The department sees the investment as a way to move toward environmental sustainability and save money on gas in the long run. The car, which is used in the department’s detective division, was called “the first Model Y that has been outfitted with lights, sirens, and radio for police use — in the whole country (maybe even the world!).”

“We’re trying to go green with our fleet. We’re hoping that people will see us as more friendly,” Police Chief David Dosin said. The department estimates the Model Y will lead to a fuel savings of roughly $8,500 over 5 years.

When the Westport, Connecticut, police department announced in 2019 it intended to purchase a Tesla, the spokesperson said that the cost savings were a major factor in addition to the environmental impacts. “We’re getting away from the carbon that we keep producing. Westport is the forefront of being green by 2050. This is part of it. I don’t think we can keep talking about it but actually not acting on it,” Westport Police Department Chief Foti Koskinas explained.

To determine the accuracy of the fuel savings statement, the EV Club of Connecticut crunched the numbers. Yes, the Tesla Model 3 police vehicle brought large monetary savings. In fact, the purchase premium was recouped in just one year. Barry Kresche of the EV Club of Connecticut shared a four-year cost projection which shows that the savings are enough for the police department to buy another Tesla “at no cost.”

More Police Departments See the Benefits of Teslas in their Fleets

The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma police department announced earlier this year it would add a Tesla Model Y to its fleet. “It’s fiscally conservative to do it,” said Officer Chris Walker. Certainly, the more than $50,000 price tag was above what they had paid previously for a patrol car. However, rather than focusing on upfront costs, the Broken Arrow police department was looking ahead to future years.

“The initial purchase price is a bit more. It’s quite a bit more, it’s $52,000, but we’re spending a lot less on maintenance and fuel for the vehicle because the fuel is electricity. After about 4 years, it pays for itself,” said Walker.

The range of 326 miles offers more than adequate distance per shift, too. “Our officers drive about 100 miles on patrol per day, and this triples that,” Walker added. The Model Y also beats other cars in the fleet — which only do 0-60 mph in 6 seconds — with its 3.5 second capacity.

“If it’s a long-term cost savings measure, awesome. Especially one that will handle the duties that we put it through. We’re not exactly easy on vehicles,” admitted Walker. The first service centers for Teslas in Oklahoma opened right in their backyard — just a 3-mile drive.

The city says they are planning to consider electric car options to replace aging vehicles in the future, doing a cost/benefit analysis for each. The car was paid for by the Police Department’s portion of the Sales Tax Capital Improvement Fund.

Time to Replace Older Vehicles? Teslas Lead the Way

The Seaside, California Police Department has upgraded 2 of their old police cars to new Tesla Model Y vehicles. The department explained that the Model Y offers unique induction wheels for better handling and performance in wet conditions. They also recognize that the cars will also help lower emissions and reduce the city’s carbon footprint. City council members approved the purchase of the new Tesla vehicles in a 4 to 1 vote during a city council meeting in February, 2021.

The Fremont, California police department bought a 2014 Tesla Model S to replace an aging Dodge Charger with the goal to find a new type of electric vehicle that could survive 5 years of active duty — while cutting emissions.

The Berea, Kentucky police department became the first in the state of Kentucky and one of the few in the nation to add electric vehicles to its fleet.

Switzerland added 7 Model X SUVs to its fleet in 2019.

Canada’s Ontario Provincial Police showed off a converted Model X pursuit vehicle at a Canadian International Autoshow.

The list keeps going. Teslas are not only popular with visionary fans — they’ve become the pride of police departments around the US and globe.


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Written By

Carolyn Fortuna (they, them), Ph.D., is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.


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