As the federal government starts to demand more eco-friendly fleet options, it’s not unusual to see various cities, counties, and states trying to determine the best, most efficient way to make the transition. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has already taken steps in piloting a Tesla Model 3 — here’s what it has discovered so far.
Why a Tesla?
The NYPD made the decision to pilot a Tesla to remain on the cutting edge of vehicle technology. Fleet management thought the vehicle was safe, reasonably priced, and would perform similarly to some of the department’s other vehicles. Rather than dive right in and purchase multiple Teslas, however, fleet management wanted to make sure the vehicle was a good fit.
New electric vehicles are emerging quickly, and the department knew it had to react accordingly while recognizing an all-electric police fleet at this time could adversely affect public safety if the electrical grid is disrupted.
“Currently, our fueling stations have backup generators to fuel in an emergency. The generator infrastructure at our locations can’t support the electrical need to simultaneously fully charge multiple electric vehicles,” Vartan Khachadurian, director of the Fleet Services Division for the NYPD, said.
Keeping Upfitting In-House
NYPD Fleet Services Division upfits and decals all its own pilot vehicles and one-off builds, rarely relying on outside sources. Since response equipment is powered by 12 volts, finding the needed power sources presented a challenge.
“Our Tesla does not have an auxiliary upfitter power distribution center like most purpose-built police vehicles come standard with. After finding the 12-volt source, we then built out own power distribution point,” Khachadurian explained.
The department’s highway vehicles are purpose-built units used for a specific function, and this Tesla is built as a slick top (no roof mounted lights or high risers). The vehicle includes the following:
- Federal Signal smart siren system
- Corner strobes
- Front and rear interior lighting system
- Computer tablet, keyboard, and printer
- Axiom camera system
- Shot gun rack
- Tiger tough seat covers
Costs and Maintenance
After upfitting, the vehicle will cost approximately $58,000, with an expected five-year fuel savings of approximately $11,500 and lower maintenance costs than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. With these savings, New York City will also benefit from less noise pollution and almost no emissions — rather, emission come from the production of electricity, according to Khachadurian.
“The NYPD is the best piloting platform for any brand or model vehicle because NYC streets will find any weakness or flaw,” he added.
Some points to keep in mind are that technicians must be trained to safely repair the high voltage system, and the fluid for the gear reduction portion of the electric motor is recommended for replacement at 100,000 miles.
The New Standard?
Will EVs become the new police fleet standard? It’s simply too early to tell. Current infrastructure can’t support charging the volume of vehicles in the NYPD’s fleet, so it will have to stick with limited numbers for now. NYC police precincts also do not have adequate parking to accommodate vehicle charging.
“What we would like manufacturers to create is a purpose-built police version electric vehicle, which I’m certain will happen soon enough. It needs to be something that can handle the day-to-day 24/7 shift police vehicles endure. Upgraded brakes, suspension, and interior robustness would be a great start. A police vehicle is a mobile office, and manufacturers should recognize and engineer vehicles with this in mind. Roominess is very important. Equipment stored in these vehicles are for both officer and public safety,” Khachadurian explained.