The Police Department Has a Tesla: Answers to Your Most Asked Questions

October 27, 2023


A few years ago, a discussion began about using electric patrol vehicles. At that time, the rationale was cost savings on fuel and maintenance.

For Immediate Release

10/27/2023

In the Chief’s words:

A few years ago, a discussion began about using electric patrol vehicles. At that time, the rationale was cost savings on fuel and maintenance. Initially, I was skeptical of the idea that an all-electric vehicle was a good fit for a small police department. In early 2022, I, along with the Mayor, City Administrator, and one of my Sergeants visited a neighboring police department that has been using electric police vehicles for years. Officers from that department answered all of our questions about battery life and the ability to house all the needed patrol related items on and inside the vehicle.

In late 2022, my department was in great need of a new police vehicle, but we could not get any of the traditional manufacturers (Ford, Dodge and General Motors) to order us a new vehicle due to supply chain limitations and no guarantee we would have a new vehicle for up to 12 months. I approached the City Council in October of 2022 and requested permission to purchase a Tesla and get it outfitted as a fleet vehicle. Tesla promised to deliver a vehicle within 90 days and they delivered one in 60 days.

Sincerely,

Mike Pattrick, 

Chief of Police, Baldwin City Police Department


Why Tesla?

The purchase of a Tesla police vehicle had been discussed for years by elected officials and the administrator. A neighboring police department had a Tesla, and the City administrator, the Mayor, and the Chief went to test drive it. They were able to get satisfactory answers to their questions.

The department was in urgent need of a new vehicle, and they were quoted a 60–90 day delivery for a Tesla versus a much longer wait period from major police vehicle manufacturers. Only one of the Big Three auto manufacturers that make police vehicles (Ford, Dodge, and General Motors) would accept an order at all, and they would not guarantee delivery within a calendar year or more based on supply chain issues.

Tesla brand vs. other Electric Vehicles?

One priority was not being the first department to test a specific vehicle, so we went with what was verifiable through another police department, and they have a Tesla.

How much will electricity cost?

The Police Department pays $10.50 per 70% charge for the charging station. 

How much range do you expect to get from one charge?

We believe it should last a 12-hour shift, however that’s one of the main purposes of this test and evaluation period. We want to be sure this vehicle will work for our department. The Tesla has regenerative braking, consisting of reversing the electric engines, which feeds small bits of energy back into the engine. This means driving in town should not drain the battery as quickly as highway driving. 

Where will it charge?

A Tesla charging station is installed at the police department. Baldwin City owns a power plant, which is capable of powering the whole town, in case of a prolonged grid outage. 

What’s the total initial cost of the vehicle?

The Tesla cost roughly $65,000, vs the $42,500 for a traditional SUV. Again, traditional vehicles had a much longer lead time for delivery at this time.

What is the cost analysis?

We will begin saving money in the fourth year of ownership. Those are the assumptions we’re working on. Since we typically keep vehicles for six or seven years, the cost may be lower over the lifetime of the vehicle.

How much will routine maintenance cost?

The Tesla will need tires, wipers, and wiper fluid routinely. There should not be other regular maintenance costs.

Where do you take a Tesla for repair/maintenance?

It must go to the Tesla dealership.

How will the Tesla handle on rural roads, in snow, etc,?

Ground clearance in heavy snow is a current concern, the same as the Dodge Charger we have in our fleet. Due to the weight of the vehicle and low center of gravity, we anticipate no significant issues. 

How will you handle pit maneuvers?

Baldwin City Police Department does not currently employ pit maneuvers as a policy.

When was the last Law Enforcement vehicle purchased?

We purchased a Dodge Charger in March 2019, and the Ford Explorer was purchased in April 2021. Our department is typically authorized to purchase one vehicle per year, and the oldest/most problematic vehicle is retired. In the last few years, Chief Pattrick has requested fewer vehicles in an attempt to be a good steward of City resources.

Are you prepared for battery fires?

Electric vehicles on the market presented a new way of dealing with vehicle fires, and fire departments, including ours, are aware of and receive specific training to deal with electric fires.

Battery replacement cost/warranty

There is an 8-year warranty on the battery. This Police Department keeps vehicles roughly 6 or 7 years.

How will you handle all the electronics equipment you need?

There is a second 12V battery system just for auxiliary devices. Tesla doesn’t allow tapping into the electric vehicle battery to provide power to supply other devices. It is a self-contained system.

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