Fremont, Calif. to pilot a Tesla Model S police cruiser

It'll charge with solar power as part of efforts to reduce carbon footprint

Police in Fremont, Calif. are turning to a novel solution to get in line with the city's broader goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions by preparing to launch a pilot program to use a zero-emission Tesla Model S fitted for police duty in daily operation.

Fremont, an East Bay city of around 235,000 situated near Silicon Valley, is where Tesla builds the Model S and its other electric vehicles in the former NUMMI plant once jointly owned by Toyota and General Motors. The city has established a goal of reducing municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from its baseline 2005 level by 2020. The Fremont Police Department says its vehicle fleet is responsible for 980 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, and the pilot program could eliminate 10 percent of municipal greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the department purchased a used 2014 Model S 85 for $61,478.50, including taxes and fees, as a replacement for a more standard cop-issue 2007 Dodge Charger that was scheduled to be taken out of service. The department says it's working with vendors to install equipment like the light bar, a digital computer, rear flasher and a push bumper, with total modifications so far running $4,447 and expected to climb.

By way of comparison, the Fremont PD says a Ford Explorer outfitted as a police cruiser runs around $40,000 before additional modifications that cost slightly less than those for a Tesla. Which makes sense, since unlike Ford, Tesla doesn't make any version of its vehicles for police use. The department also says a police Explorer uses about $32,000 worth of gasoline over five years and racks up around $15,000 in maintenance costs. The average lifespan of a police vehicle is about five years, it says, while electric vehicles "may be operational for longer due to less mechanical issues."

Supplying energy to the batteries are 872 kilowatts of solar carports installed on the FPD headquarters and three charging stations, meaning that each police vehicle replaced with an electric vehicle can zero out the former's CO2 emissions. The city's pilot-program team will monitor the Model S cruiser for performance, durability, range, costs and other issues that arise.

The department says it's been incorporating hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles including Ford Escapes and Fusions and Toyota Priuses into its fleet since 2008. Ford earlier this month gave us a look at the new Police Interceptor Utility, based on the 2020 Explorer. It comes with a 3.3-liter hybrid all-wheel-drive powertrain. Ford also offers a pursuit-rated SSV Plug-In Hybrid Sedan as part of its police lineup.

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