This past summer, the Los Angeles Police Department put 100 BMW i3s on the streets of LA, a big step in its mission to green the city's police force. The i3s have been deployed to handle non-emergency situations, but the LAPD is still in the market for a long-range, powerful vehicle for field duty. The department’s initial testing of Tesla’s Model S P85D has been so successful that it has now announced one of the cars will begin on-duty field testing in 2017. Meanwhile, NBC reports that LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck want to see many more EVs join the force in the next five years.
Earlier this year, we heard the news that the LAPD would be getting a couple of Tesla Model S P85Ds to test drive and evaluate for regular use by its officers. The goal was to determine the luxury sedan’s benefits and drawbacks as a patrol car, and how well it would perform in the city, says BGR. The two P85Ds on loan to the LAPD were also specifically evaluated for use in high-speed pursuit scenarios. Unsurprisingly, Tesla’s super-fast EVs passed the test with flying colors. Now, the plan is to fit one of the cars with full police gear, and launch it for on-duty field testing as a patrol car. LAPD Administrator Vartan Yegiyan says he hopes to have the Tesla in a field sergeant’s hands by as early as next year, reports NBC Los Angeles. While on duty, the Tesla would be used for regular police work, and will be seen making routine stops, responding to calls, and even chasing down scoundrels in high-speed pursuits. The Model S should have no problem meeting these expectations anywhere on LA’s terrain, given the car’s two- or four-wheel driving capability and its reported ability to reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds.
However, in the original test phase, the fully-electric BMW i3 beat out Tesla’s EV to get the coveted contract with the force. At $40,000 a pop, the hatchback was more affordable, and had enough range and speed to handle daily non-emergency situations. Its compact size and tight turning radius also give the i3 great mobility for getting around LA’s congested roads. So far, the cars have been used for transporting officers and community outreach initiatives throughout the department, says BMW. The automaker’s data system is integrated with the LAPD’s fleet management software, allowing the department to collect vehicle data to maintain the fleet. Meanwhile, a web tool in the works would also allow the LAPD to monitor its cars in near real-time, ensuring improved deployment, use, and charging of the i3s.
While Los Angeles residents have become accustomed to seeing the black and white BMWs touring the town since the summer, the LAPD has high hopes for the Model S as a functional field patrol car. With its hefty price tag of $100,000, we shouldn’t expect Tesla’s EVs to be flooding the streets by next year. However, Police Administrator Yegiyan remains positive about the vehicles’ future integration with the force: he told NBC that when the tech becomes affordable, the LAPD will be ready to electrify its fleet.