As elected officials are often known to do, Bridgewater, N.S., Mayor David Mitchell recently took to Twitter to share some exciting news. In mid February, he posted that the town had approved the purchase of a new police vehicle.
While that seems rather mundane, it’s not as ho-hum as it sounds. That’s because what the town agreed to purchase was a fully electric Tesla Model 3.
The decision by the community of just under 9,000 people, located west of Halifax in Lunenburg Co., meant that it became one of the first police forces in Canada to buy an electric vehicle specifically for patrolling. While the Vancouver Police Department has been using a fleet of Ford Focus EVs since 2018, they operate as unmarked vehicles for undercover detective work and not regular patrols.
Going with an electric vehicle is consistent with the overall goals of Bridgewater to increase its sustainable practices, Mitchell said. But the decision came only after it was concluded that any electric vehicle used for policing would still meet the same basic performance and capability requirements of its current fleet of five Dodge Durango Interceptors.
Mitchell said selecting the Tesla Model 3 Long Range came after a two-year search process where the town looked at what EV options are available and how they are performing as a police vehicle where already is use.
“Before the Model 3 had any tried and tested police use, there were no EVs out there that would have been suitable,” said Mitchell. “The Chevy Bolt was too small, and we needed something with all-wheel drive, so the Hyundai Kona, for example, wasn’t suitable either.”
The vehicle cost $72,000, about $10,000 more than what was being paid for the Durango. The price tag does not include the cost of converting the vehicle for police use, but that cost would also have been incurred had they decided to purchase another Dodge.
Despite the premium, Mitchell said that based on its estimates, the town will save $5,000 to $6,000 per year, mainly due to the cost of gas, with the switch. This Tesla Model 3 has a battery range of 576 kilometres, and Mitchell said it should be patrolling Bridgewater’s streets this month, driving about 150 kilometres per day. Bridgewater is just under 14-square-kilometres in size.
At present, Telsa does not offer a specific Model 3 police vehicle, but the automaker did design a customized vehicle as part of a policing experiment in the United Kingdom. Model 3s have also been purchased and custom fitted by other smaller police services in the U.S., such as those is Westport, Conn., and Bagersville, Ind.
While the Model 3 has drawn praise from the police departments using them, it isn’t the only EV currently being evaluated.
Like Tesla’s initiatives in the U.K., Ford recently customized a Mustang Mach-e and then submitted it for consideration in the Michigan State Police 2022 Model Year Police Evaluation program. It took place in September 2021, and the Mach-e passed the program, making it the first EV to do so. It was a significant milestone as the Michigan State Police is one of only two police departments in the U.S. to annually review vehicles for police suitability. Its results are then shared and often used by other police agencies to assist in their purchasing decisions.
Proof of this came at the end of December, when the New York City Police Department announced it was purchasing 184 Ford Mustang Mach-e vehicles as part of its fleet renewal program. It also announced that it would purchase 250 Tesla Model 3s. This might be the watershed moment that will lead other police agencies to consider implementing EVs into their fleets. All EV purchases for policing today have involved stock vehicles that need to be adapted for use.
For a long time, Ford has offered a dedicated police interceptor model, which is currently derived from its Ford Explorer. When asked if it was considering a Mustang Mach-e variant of the interceptor, a spokesperson was non-committal.
“Law enforcement demand for all-electric vehicles is growing worldwide,” said Megan Joakim, communications manager at Ford Canada. “Ford is exploring all-electric, purpose-built law enforcement vehicles as part of its more than $30 billion investment in electrification through 2025, however, we have no additional news to share about future electric police vehicles at this time.”
Joakim said that Ford has released a police modifier bulletin which provides an overview of the electrical system of the Mustang Mach-E and included recommendations on which model to choose, as well as advice on installing aftermarket accessories including auxiliary lighting, radios and computer equipment.
The Mach-e has drawn interest among Canadian police departments. In Repentigny, Que., a suburb of Montreal, police recently began a six-month trial using a customized Ford Mustang Mach-e in its regular operations.
“We are extremely proud to have walked the talk, not only on the environment by reducing our ecological footprint, but also by demonstrating our desire to take care of our employees and ensure their health and safety” said Repentigny Mayor Nicolas Dufour in a release to announce the project. The Mach-e was modified by Cyberkar Systems of Trebonne, Que., which has experience in converting stock vehicles for policing.
- Peel Regional Police announced in February that it is conduct tests and trials to ensure that EVs would be suitable for its use. The force’s fleet already includes the Ford Interceptor Hybrid Utility.
- In Toronto, where the city has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 65 per cent by 2030, the police service began testing hybrid versions of the Ford Interceptor Utility in 2021.