Electric vehicles make sense for use in large, dense cities looking to reduce emissions and noise. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has concluded that some of its own automotive needs fit these conditions, and has signed a contract with BMW to lease 100 BMW i3 electric vehicles, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The i3’s aren’t suitable patrol cars and wouldn’t be appropriate for high-speed chases. The small all-electric vehicles will instead be assigned to routine police department business and community outreach.
The LAPD was also considering Tesla Model S electric vehicles because of the Tesla’s greater range (almost 300 miles compared to the BMW’s 80 to 100 miles) and much higher performance (the Model S can go from zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds, even without the Ludicrous Mode option). Certainly the Model S’s larger size combined with its speed and range would make it more appropriate for patrol use than the BMW, but vehicle cost ruled it out. The BMW retail price is $42,000, less than half the cost of a Model S before adding the equipment needed in a patrol vehicle.
The police department is leasing the BMWs for $387 per month per vehicle for three years. Other factors in the department’s decision are the i3’s fast charging time and the existence of i3 service centers — i Centers — in the Los Angeles area. According to BMW, the LAPD will also be acquiring 100 Level 2 chargers and 4 fast-charging stations to service the i3s, supplied by Greenlots, a California company that manages charging networks.
The LAPD already uses BMW motorcycles, and intends to acquire more electric vehicles in the future. The lease deal will enable the LAPD to update its fleet as electric vehicle technology advances. “We want to go to the next step,” said LA Police Chief Charlie Beck. “They will absolutely be the patrol cars of the future.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city’s use of electric vehicles will “save money and resources,” and added that “We should be thinking green in everything we do.” The LAPD contract brings the total number of electric vehicles in use in the city to almost 200, with plans by the city to add 100 more this year.