Calif. Police Department Unveils New Tesla Cruisers to Help Aging Fleet

April 16, 2024
As part of a pilot program, the Anaheim Police Department will be putting six Tesla Model Y vehicles in service in the coming weeks after 16 officers are trained to use them.

Anaheim police will soon begin using electric Tesla Model Ys as patrol vehicles in a pilot program the department says will help keep more officers on the road.

“We are in desperate need of police cars,” Anaheim Police Department Sgt. Jacob Gallacher said Monday at an event unveiling the vehicles.

The Police Department has 83 patrol vehicles, which city officials say are aging and breaking down more often. Chief Rick Armendariz said at a February council meeting discussing the program that the need is critical because the department’s patrol fleet is depleted to the point “where we do not have enough vehicles for our officers to deploy properly and properly serve our community.”

Armendariz said then that only 69 vehicles were currently working and the department faces daily struggles with maintenance.

The six Model Ys that were purchased will be put in service in the coming weeks after 16 officers are trained to use them, said Gallacher, who is overseeing the pilot program.

Officers will note how much battery life the vehicles have throughout their shifts. The vehicles will be used in 12.5 hour shifts first before being tested in 24-hour shifts.

The vehicles will be charged at a police station with level-two chargers. Once they begin using the vehicles for 24-hour shifts, they’ll use Tesla Superchargers, Gallacher said.

Ongoing supply chain issues have made getting replacement gas-powered vehicles and parts harder, with deliveries taking over a year to arrive.

To work around the issue, city staff explored alternatives and landed on buying and upfitting Tesla vehicles.

APD purchases the vehicles directly from Tesla. The cars are then outfitted with lights, radios and other necessary parts to become a patrol vehicle. That work is done by a third-party vendor, Unplugged Performance.

Tesla told the city it needs just a two-week lead time to deliver new vehicles once they are ordered.

South Pasadena, Fremont and Greenfield have also purchased Tesla vehicles.

The electric vehicles are expected to be cheaper to operate, but come with a higher initial cost. APD will spend about $95,000 per outfitted Model Y,  compared to $79,000 for a Ford Explorer police pursuit vehicle. The Teslas are expected to cost about 12 cents per mile to operate compared to 36 cents per mile for the Explorer, which has higher fuel and maintenance costs.

The pilot program will evaluate how well the electric vehicles hold their charge. Armendariz said officers drive around 100 miles in a 12-hour shift. The Model Y are expected to have a range of around 300 miles, he said.

The Tesla model is the only electric vehicle that is “pursuit rated,” city officials have said.

APD will evaluate data collected during the pilot program to help inform whether or not the department should buy more electric vehicles.

“We’re not gonna replace our entire fleet with electric cars,” Gallacher said, “but if it’s something that we could supplement our fleet with, that’s something we may consider doing.”


©2024 MediaNews Group, Inc.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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