LAPD gets Tesla Model S police cruiser to test out

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Most people know what an LAPD car looks like, but one marked black-and-white you may see in downtown L.A. looks a little different. It's a Tesla. (KABC)

Most people know what an LAPD car looks like, but one marked black-and-white you may see in downtown L.A. looks a little different. It's a Tesla.

"We found a car that is very spacious inside. It has lots of technology, and it has also the performance that actually can match any patrol car today," said Vartan Yagiyan with the LAPD's Administrative Services Bureau.

The LAPD's one Tesla is a regular Model S, and yes, it would be plenty fast enough for one of Southern California's legendary police pursuits. The next question of course is, how much tax money was spent?

"Tesla was gracious enough to loan the vehicle to us for over a year, and we've been studying, testing, driving, trying to figure out how to put this car on the street as a patrol vehicle," Yagiyan said.

Evaluating electric vehicles is part of an overall sustainability plan for the city.

"That's really how we're going to accelerate not just reducing air pollution, but lowering our maintenance and fuel costs as well," said Matt Petersen, the chief sustainability officer for the city of Los Angeles.

Already in use in non-emergency unmarked roles is a fleet of 100 BMW i3 plug-in electric cars, each leased by the department for $387 per month, which includes maintenance and training for city personnel.

When advantages and disadvantages of electric cars are discussed, their general inability to take long journeys comes into question. But for city vehicles, including police vehicles, EV range is more than sufficient since the cars tend to stay within the city limits.

Most LAPD patrol cars only drive about 40 miles per day. So the department will be adding to its electric fleet, but slowly.

"We're getting ready to get our next 100 vehicles, and then the following year we'll get another 100 vehicles," Yagiyan said.

The overall savings could be significant, especially as more city facilities adopt solar energy-charging systems. EVs require almost no maintenance.

They might look a little funny now pulling in and out of the department's downtown garage. But to the mayor's office and the LAPD, these electric police cars look like the future.
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