FREMONT (CBS SF) – Police in Fremont have released the results of a pilot program involving a Tesla added to its fleet, saying the electric vehicle can withstand the rigors of police use, while requiring less maintenance.
“After careful review, the Pilot Program was determined to be a success. The police patrol electric vehicle met the needs of police services,” the department said in its report released Thursday.
“The final results from the one-year Electric Patrol Vehicle Pilot Program have been encouraging as the City of Fremont continues to look for cost-effective ways to help make Fremont more sustainable,” Captain Sean Washington said in a statement.
The 2014 Model S 85 electric sedan that was built at the automaker’s Fremont factory joined the department’s fleet in March of 2019. Over one year, police said the cost of charging the Tesla was significantly lower than the cost of filling up a standard Ford police vehicle.
While the Tesla consumed $1,036 in energy during the pilot program, the annual cost to fill up the Ford was $5,133, assuming gasoline prices of $3.00 a gallon.
Repair costs were higher for the Tesla ($4,865 vs. $2,915), but police said the downtime of the electric vehicle was nearly four weeks shorter compared to the vehicles in their gas powered fleet (39 vs 66 days). The department believes the Tesla’s reduced maintenance will likely result in a lifespan of longer than the five years expected for patrol vehicles.
“With an average of 27 fewer days of downtime per year, a savings of $2,147 in the total annual cost of energy/fuel, maintenance, and repair, and no operational carbon dioxide emissions, the pilot program results have prompted Fremont PD to move forward with plans to expand its fleet of electric patrol vehicle alternatives,” Washington said.
Other benefits noted by officers included reduction in anxiety and stress, along with improved radio communications, due to the lack of engine noise.
Fremont Police also said that the 265-mile range of the Model S “easily accommodated” the 40 to 70 miles that the department’s patrol vehicles drove on average per day. The vehicle did make headlines in September of 2019, when it was called off a chase after running low on battery power, which was attributed to someone not plugging the vehicle into a charger.
“This unfortunately happens from time to time even in our vehicles that run on gas, if they aren’t re-fueled at the end of a shift,” a department spokesperson said at the time.
The Fremont Police Department has since added a Tesla Model Y electric SUV and a Ford Explorer Hybrid SUV to its fleet and plans to add another energy efficient vehicle.
Police said the Model Y has several advantages over the Model S used in the pilot program, including a lower starting price, increased range, increased storage space and higher ground clearance.