Tesla is in 'hot pursuit' of the police cruiser market

Tesla’s cars are renowned for their luxury privileges, artistic design and innovative technologies. Combining all the above, and an electric engine, the company’s Model S, is one of the handful of electric cars that is widely available worldwide, thus taking on many roles in several markets since it first launched back in 2012.

But from the looks of it, the most profitable market that Tesla wishes to enter is the police cruiser one.

It all started last year, when the Los Angeles Police Department began testing two Model S P85D sedans as loaner cars, along with a BMW i3. Both cars got the full police treatment, complete with roof-mounted light bars. That choice came as part of LA’s intention to make electric cars represent 80% of municipal-fleet vehicle purchases by 2025.

"Tesla definitely stepped up and gave us the Model S to do some evaluation with them," said LAPD Police Administrator Vartan Yegiyan. Tesla is working with the agency "to assess the vehicle's performance in our environment and to learn what are the drawbacks and positives of this type of vehicle in our fleet operation. Not only on the regular transportation side, but also the future in the high-pursuit-rated vehicle arena."

Tesla declined to comment for this report.

Interestingly, according to papers, Tesla’s Model S seems to be a plausible idea to serve as a police cruiser and here’s why:

  • Electric cars in general, could save the city government money that would otherwise be spent on fuel, not to mention the reduction of air pollution. Model S as a solely electric car is no exception.
  • Its rear-wheel drive is in accordance to the strong preferences of most police forces (though the reasons for which police officers and fleet managers prefer RWD cars remain debatable).
  • The electric engine makes a lot less noise that a regular engine, an advantage that leads to reduced stress amongst police officers on duty and easier ‘sneak up on the bad guys’ tactics.
  • Tesla’s luxury additions are also found on Model S five-door hatchback body. That could offer plenty of space for equipment, if modified properly.
  • Yet, don’t be fooled by the electric engine. Model S is surprisingly fast. 0 to 60 mph acceleration can be achieved in approximately 4.5 seconds for the 85kw/h model, which has a 310kw (416HP) electric motor.
  • More importantly, Tesla’s signature has been connected indispensably to safety and not without a reason. In fact, the Model S was rated as the safest car on sale by NHTSA. So at least there won’t be any gas tank explosions like those suffered by Ford Crown Victoria cruisers.

Granted, there are some drawbacks.

Specifically, the car’s price starts at $71,200 which is much higher than traditional police cars. That could be enough to eliminate the advantage of saving money from fuels. In fact, it could prove to be more costly unless the Model S stays in police hands for the next 10 years.

LAPD Police Administrator however, appeared optimistic. "Is it practical now? No," Yegiyan said, but he added that over "the next three to five years ... not only will the industry push toward electrification, but prices will drop on vehicles. More models will be coming out, and the electricity and electrical grid will become more robust, and more charging stations will be available. While that's occurring we'll be in the space learning and contributing to the process."

So what do you think? Does Tesla have a chance of establishing a strong position on the police cruiser market? Share your thoughts with us, in the comments below. 


By: Bill Thompson | General | May 31 2016
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