Rarely will police activity look like the chase scene from Bullitt. That’s a good thing for precincts trying to make budget for the higher ups and, ultimately, the taxpayers who foot the bill. So what’s a police department to do with those Crown Vic gas guzzlers and their slightly more efficient replacements? Turn to electric vehicles, many in law enforcement are saying. From the ability to sneak up to a perp’s place to the massive fuel savings available when performance driving is unnecessary, EVs appear to have a bright future as cop cars.
Tactical uses for electric vehicles
The Los Angeles Police Department was testing Brammo electric motorcycles late in 2013, and in June L.A.P.D. officials banked down on three off-road bikes by Zero, a top electric bike maker. According to CBS Los Angeles, the Zero MMX bikes were going to be used in parts of the San Fernando Valley and Griffith Park. Instead of announcing their presence with the grating sounds of a gas-powered Bimmer or Harley, the Zero electric bikes gave cops the advantage of approaching in stealth mode. Electric motors hardly make a sound.
This same feature of EVs has created danger on the streets when pedestrians can’t hear the Prius or Model S with its motor whirring by, but for the cops it’s a tactical advantage. Police cruisers like the Volkswagen (VLKAY.PK) e-Golf appearing at a recent police equipment convention in Leipzig offers the same advantage for multiple officers of the law traveling en masse.
Making tight budgets
At a purchase price of $17,945 compared to a $35,000 cop motorcycle by internal-combustion-engine bike makers, the Zero MMX offered a very practical advantage for the L.A.P.D. as well. For European police forces looking at the new VW e-Golf, fueling concerns come into play in a major way. Gas costs nearly twice as much in Europe as it does in the U.S., making internal-combustion engine police vehicles a burden on the finances of the force and community.
Renault electric police vehicles in Europe and Ford Fusion hybrids favored by the New York Police Department represent two other type of cop cars that save law enforcement agencies money on fueling. Most police activity involves cruising through neighborhoods with frequent stops. The excellent economy of electric vehicles in urban settings never made more sense.
Of course, there are going to be times when a high-speed chase does occur and only a modern-day Bullitt and his badass Mustang V8 will suffice. Police departments should always have an asphalt-burner gassed up and ready to go. The other 99 percent of the time, it makes sense to have the quiet efficiency of electric vehicles working for them as cop cars.