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Can’t beat ’em? Join ’em: California police considering Tesla Model S cop cars

There is a town in California so wealthy that even the cops are getting Teslas.

The town of Atherton is the bedroom community for Silicon Valley. The average home price is $6.7 million and 15 percent of drivers have a Tesla Model S. 

But that’s not enough for this high-tech Pleasantville. City Manager George Rodericks told the San Jose Mercury News that he would like to see Atherton cops in Teslas, too. 

On the face of it, this seems like a vanity project by a town going for the smuggest community in America. As an automotive journalist, however, it’s my job to take these things seriously. So on with the analysis!

The Tesla S definitely has some things going for it as a police cruiser.

For starters, it would be just plain cool. “People” like Robocop, Judge Dredd, and whatever Sly Stalone’s character from Demolition Man was called, would look perfect behind the wheel of a Tesla cop car.

With 415 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds in the top-end performance model, the Model S is fast enough to catch just about anyone who doesn’t have a Ferrari. But, from the sound of it, that might be another 15 percent of Atherton residents.

Another reason the Model S would be ideal for police pursuits is its safety rating. Ignoring the recent string of Model S fires, the Tesla could help curb the many police deaths that happen at the wheel.

As an EV, the Tesla has some unique benefits to offer. It is very quiet, which is good both for occupant stress and sneaking up on Snidely Whiplash when he is tying damsels to train tracks. And of course the Model S’ zero emissions motoring is just as good for cops as it is for everyone else.

Unfortunately, there are some pretty big minuses, too. The biggest is price. The most basic Tesla S costs $70,000. Options and police add-ons are likely to make this electric beast close to twice as expensive as the leading cop car competitor, the Dodge Charger Pursuit.

Speaking of which, police departments big and small benefit from the existence of aftermarket upgrades for the mass-market vehicles they usually own. In a Tesla, the prisoner cage, the lights and sirens, and any other upgrades, would all have to be custom built – and that’s not cheap either.

As with any EV application, range and charging also come into play. The Tesla has impressive range for an EV, rated 265 miles by the EPA. Police officers can’t risk running to low on charge so the effective range is likely to be a lot less, meaning municipalities will have to implement the 90-second battery swap, which was demonstrated by Tesla a few months ago. 

Digital Trends has reached out to Atherton Chief of Police to see what he thinks about equipping his officers with luxury EVs. We haven’t heard back yet, but we will update this story if we do.

All and all, the Tesla has a lot going for it – for both consumers and cops. Particularly considering it was never intended to be more than a consumer car. But the price and the niche market of the ultimate luxury EV make its likely future as a cop car limited to enclaves of billionaires and super villains. The fact remains, however, that Model S cop car have even been proposed means that it might not be long before we see Police EVs across the nation.

(Main Photo Credit: Jalopnik)

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