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Electric 5-0: Portuguese police buy Nissan Leafs

Nissan Leaf police car front three-quarter viewCops have never had so many choices. With Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler rolling out new police cars, there is plenty of new metal available. Even Nissan is getting in on the act. The Japanese company will sell Nissan Leaf EVs to the Portuguese police.

Portugal’s PSP (Polícia de Segurança Pública) placed an order for eight of the electric hatchbacks. The Leafs will sport full police livery, and a full battery of lights and sirens.

Don’t expect a Leaf to end up on World’s Wildest Police Chases, though. The EVs’ limited range means they will primarily be used to patrol school zones, as part of PSP’s Safe School Program. However, in an emergency, cops will use any tool at their disposal: the Portuguese police said that, “They can be called upon to perform other police duties at any time.”

“We pride ourselves in being the first police force in the world to incorporate cars with zero-emission technology as part of our 5,000 vehicle fleet,” said Superintendent Paul Gomes Valente, PSP’s national director. PSP hopes to reduce its carbon footprint, and deploying electric cars is the first step in that effort.

With its 107 horsepower motor and 92 mph top speed, the Leaf won’t keep up with a Ford Police Interceptor, Dodge Charger Pursuit, or most perps, but it could still be useful. Police patrolling urban areas could cut emissions significantly, and since they spend a lot of time sitting still, they wouldn’t tax the battery’s range.Nissan Leaf police car rear three-quarter view

The Leaf may seem small compared to a Taurus, Charger, or Chevy Caprice, but it will fit right in with European police cars like the Opel Astra and Peugeot 207.

If the cops do need to get somewhere in a hurry, they will need to make sure that the Leaf is charged up. It takes several hours to charge the batteries after they run low.

Electric police cars may be in our future, but today’s Nissan Leaf may not be the ideal car for the job. Like all other EVs, its limited range and long charging times make spontaneous decisions, like pursuing a criminal or responding to a call, difficult.

For, now the PSP’s Leafs will show the public that the department is going green. Their purchase seems like more of a publicity stunt than a practical decision. Everything has to start somewhere: maybe this will be the first step toward a truly capable police EV.