Electric Motorcycles on Patrol

November 2013, Government Fleet - WebXclusive

by David Griffith

Photo courtesy of Zero Motorcycles.
Photo courtesy of Zero Motorcycles.

While it's unlikely that all-electric cars will replace their gasoline-powered counterparts for law enforcement patrol duty, smaller electric vehicles have made inroads into police fleets.

Rechargeable single officer transporters have been a mainstay among law enforcement vehicles for more than a decade. Today, officers on Segways, T3 Motion three-wheelers, Trikkes, and other solo transports are a common sight in airports, parks, and at public gathering spots.

The next phase of electric vehicle adoption among police agencies is likely to be motorcycles. Several makes of electric patrol motorcycles are available, and they are becoming more popular with campus and municipal officers.

Electric motorcycles are not suitable for patrolling highways or long stretches of rural road because of their range and speed limitations. But a critical test is under way in Los Angeles to see if electric bikes can replace the gas-burning models used by the Los Angeles Police Department on city streets.

The LAPD is evaluating police versions of the Brammo Empulse LE and the Zero Motorcycles DS. The Brammo offers a range of around 100 miles and a top speed of slightly more than 100 mph. The Zero model offers 132 miles on a single charge and a top speed of 95 mph.

LAPD says it is looking at the electric bikes not only for green reasons, but also to save money. The Brammo model sells for $24,995 and the Zero Motorcycles bike lists for $17,945. Fully equipped gasoline motorcycles sell for roughly $35,000.

The testing is likely to take some time, according to the LAPD. And after it is completed, the department plans to issue a comprehensive report on the capabilities of the electric bikes and whether they should be added to its fleet of 400 police motorcycles.

David Griffith is the editor of Police Magazine.

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