Uncommon cruisers

An officer on foot blends in with the crowd; they are seen, yet unseen until noticed. Your officers are only as tall as they can be, their badge only grabs the inattentive passer-by with a reflection of light.

What if there was a way to push this visibility off the scale? What if there was a way to have patrol officers have an unmistakable presence—without sitting in a traditional patrol vehicle?

And what if that way ultimately saved a good bit of money come the yearly budget review?

Fully electric vehicles look to provide just that: these force multipliers knock the gas bill down a notch, minimize the maintenance costs all while enhancing community relationships and crowd recognition. Transports range from single to a whopping six officers—all without using a single drop of gasoline, emitting absolutely no noxious fumes and quietly running hours…and miles…on end. Its important to note that none of these are meant to replace the patrol vehicle. While a few of these models are in fact street legal, none are pursuit rated; dust off the gas card if you need to go faster than 70 mph.

We put a few of these such vehicles side by side. Will all-electric wheels fit within your mission?

Before you ask, the models shown here are chargeable by a 110 to 220 connection with memory-less batteries so you can stop, top off the charge, and move on.

One could really lean into this

If you’ve never ridden on a Segway, the first seconds are slightly unnerving. Think of it like getting your sea legs or like learning to ride a bike. Chip MacDonald, the company’s director of Global Police and Government Business, attributes this short learning curve to the fact that it was designed to behave like a human. “On two feet, but faster,” he says.

Segway initially offered the i2 and x2 Patroller PT (personal transport). In his experience, having heard as if they took foot patrol and put it on steroids MacDonald often receives stories back from police departments. He explains that one department with around 100 PTs on patrol kept up with a fleeing suspect; the officer described the chase as “tooling along behind.” When apprehended, the worn-out suspect asked, “What is that thing?”.

Once accustomed, controlling a PT is as straightforward as one could imagine—lean in the direction you want to go. And that’s as simple and as complicated as it sounds. The most common concern surrounding these is its stability; while “manned” this is easily overcome with a short time in training. Unmanned however, Segway has responded to this concern by developing a model featuring a third wheel. This new model will be able to stand upright, raising it’s force multiplication exponentially. It will offer similar specifications as its two-wheeled siblings, but it will be slightly larger.

The Segway technology has been around for 13 years and with, according to MacDonald, roughly 10,000 units purchased one might guess the picture of an officer “tooling around” on one to be ordinary. Segways still grabs attention and beefs up patrol presence. Officers are able to respond quicker, cover nine times more ground than on foot, access “predestinarian-only” areas all while presenting an image without a significant barrier between them and the people.

 

i2 Patroller PT

  • Range — 24 miles
  • Top Speed — 12.5 mph
  • Acceleration — unspecified,
  • dynamic acceleration based on user control
  • Vehicle weight — 105 pounds
  • Charging time (max time) —
  • 10 hours (recharges when going downhill)
  • On-board charging kit — Yes
  • Battery type — Li-ion
  • Tire size — 19 inches
  • Turning radius — Zero degrees
  • Training available — Yes

 

x2 Patroller PT

  • Range — 12 miles
  • Top Speed — 12.5 mph
  • Acceleration — unspecified,
  • dynamic acceleration based on user control
  • Vehicle weight — 120 pounds
  • Charging time (max time) —
  • 10 hours from zero (recharges when going downhill)
  • Onboard charging kit — Yes
  • Battery type — Li-ion
  • Tire size — 8 inches
  • Turning radius — Zero degrees
  • Training available — Yes

Image of the three-wheeled product unavailable at time of publication.

Can you go 25 mph on foot?

“If [departments] don’t have the budget to hire people, a vehicle that increases visibility is just as important,” says Brian Lamacchia, T3 Motion’s West Coast regional sales director. This comment is in reference to the T3’s size—the Patroller runs a 13-square-foot footprint; the Vision at a sleeker 8.

The product line includes two unique packages, a third offering suspension for driver comfort. Larger sizes mean additional accessory options. “Our vehicle…gives us a larger domain for things like lights and horns,” says Lamacchia. “It also gives us the ability to provide a video tracking system.”

The system is named MotionTrak and basically acts as in-car video. It not only allows video recording but also takes note of driver habits—speed, position, time, direction and more.

Another feature is controlled speed “mode.” This is set by a key switch and limits top speed by selection.

Vision also boasts a non-marking tire, a design angled towards indoor operations like malls and airports.

 

T3 Patroller, Patroller S

  • Range — 25 miles
  • Top Speed — 25 mph
  • Acceleration —
  • 5 seconds (to 10 mph)
  • Vehicle weight — 300 pounds
  • Charging time (max time) —
  • 4 hours
  • On-board charging kit — Yes
  • Battery type — Interchangeable
  • Tire size — 15x6 front, 60x120 rear
  • Turning radius — Zero degrees
  • Training available — Yes

 

T3 Vision

  • Range — 20 miles
  • Top Speed — 12 mph
  • Acceleration —
  • 5 seconds (to 10 mph)
  • Vehicle weight — 236 pounds
  • Charging time (max time) —
  • 4 hours
  • On-board charging kit — Yes
  • Battery type — Interchangeable
  • Tire size — 15 x 6 x 6 (front),
  • 120 x 70 x 12 (rear)
  • Turning radius — Zero degrees
  • Training available — Yes

Electric scooters (and more) on duty

New for Vectrix is the ES-3 (for law enforcement and security ONLY), a street-legal three-wheeled stand-up offering using the same motor as the VX-2. The model includes headlights, tail lights, reverse, front disc brakes, turn
signals—all the items required under DOT guidelines to make it highway legal.

 

VX-1 Li/Li+

  • Range — 40-65 miles / 85 miles
  • Top Speed — 68 mph
  • Acceleration —
  • 6 / 6.25 seconds (to 50 mph)
  • Vehicle weight — 452 / 460 pounds
  • Charging time (max time) —
  • 4 / 6 hours
  • On-board charging kit — Yes
  • Battery type — LiFePO4
  • Tire size — 120/70-14 (front), 140/60-13 (rear)
  • Training available — Yes

 

VX-2

  • Range — 55 miles
  • Top Speed — 39 mph
  • Acceleration — 7 seconds (to 30 mph)
  • Vehicle weight — 430 pounds
  • Charging time (max time) —
  • 5 hours
  • On-board charging kit — Yes
  • Battery type — SLA 48V (60 Ah)
  • Tire size — 130/60-13
  • Training available — Yes

 

ES-3

  • Range — 25 miles
  • Top Speed — 25 mph
  • Charging time (max time) —
  • 4 hours
  • On-board charging kit — Yes
  • Battery type — 1.0 kWh Lithium (interchangeable)
  • Turning radius — Zero degrees
  • Training available — Yes

Functional, yet fun — eS, e2 Electric (with/without bolt-on bed)

The distinguishing feature of the street-legal GEM, a brand purchased by Polaris in 2011, is that it allows for more than one rider. One common model allows for two officers—however, their website does show a design that can carry up to six.
Due to the large door opening (double-hinged hard—new for 2014—or canvas doors are available), the vehicles are designed to be easy to get into and out of. For a size comparison, they are larger than a SmartCar, and 0.5 inches taller than a Chrysler minivan. This height increases visibility, improving your presence for community policing, events, parking enforcement or downtown patrol.

“[Law enforcement] also likes the cost of operating … which is about two cents a mile depending on your power cost … it comes to about 150 miles a gallon,” says Lenny Szabo, commercial sales manager for GEMS.

Put into simplest terms, the GEM is like Polaris took an electric full-sized vehicle and shrank it to size. It comes with street suspension, front and rear disc brakes, pedal brake and the same acceleration/steering controls you’ll find in your patrol car.

  • Range — 35 miles
  • Top Speed — 25 mph
  • Acceleration — unavailable
  • Vehicle weight — 1,150 pounds
  • Charging time (max time) — 8 hours
  • On-board charging kit — Yes
  • Battery type — Six 12-Volt flooded electrolyte
  • Tire size — 12 inches
  • Turning radius — 11.5 feet
  • Training — Available through dealer

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