Following Extensive Trial, LAPD Signs Deal To Electrify Non-Emergency Police Fleet With 100 BMW i3 Electric Cars

Late last Summer, just ahead of National Drive Electric Week, the City of Los Angeles announced a commitment to lease more than 160 electric vehicles and 128 plug-in hybrids as replacements for traditional gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles on its city fleet.

As we explained at the time, it was all part of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Sustainable City pLAn, a blueprint announced back in 2014 to make the City of Los Angeles more sustainable, more environmentally responsible and better off financially too. Under that plan, Mayor Garcetti set a target of having 50 percent of all of the city’s annual light-duty vehicle purchases powered by electricity by 2017, and to have 80 percent of all city vehicle fleets fully electric by 2025.

Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck by a BMW i3

Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck by an LAPD BMW i3

Now, after a multi-month trial involving the evaluation of a wide range of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles from different manufacturers the city has announced that it has chosen the BMW i3 electric car as its preferred plug-in for use by the LAPD. Consequently, it has placed an order for more than 100  BMW i3 electric cars to be placed with the LAPD fleet in the coming months to be used in non-emergency roles. 

For the past year, the LAPD has tested both the BMW i3 and the Tesla Model S on its fleet in a variety of roles, ranging from emergency response vehicles to more benign duties such as community outreach and parking enforcement. And while Tesla is believed to have loaned the LAPD two high-performance Tesla Model S P85D models free of charge for evaluation purposes — and the LAPD seems happy with their incredibly fast 0-60 mph acceleration time — the LAPD isn’t quite convinced the Model S makes a good police cruiser just yet.

In Europe, the BMW i3 is a popular emergency vehicle in large cities.

In Europe, the BMW i3 is a popular emergency vehicle in large cities.

Given that the sticker price on a high-end Model S P90D (the P85D’s replacement) starts at $110,000, we’re suspecting price has a part to play in the LAPD’s decision to not order a Model S just yet, although LAPD Police Administrator Vartan Yegiyan told CNBC last month that it was still open to the idea of using the Tesla Model S as Police Cruisers at some point in the future.

“Is it practical now? No,” he told CNBC last month, adding that over “the next three to five years … not only will the industry push toward electrification, but prices will drop on vehicles. More models will be coming out, and the electricity and electrical grid will become more robust, and more charging stations will be available. While that’s occurring we’ll be in the space learning and contributing to the process.”

Despite seeming less than convinced about the suitability of the Tesla Model S as a cruiser however, Yegiyan and his team are more confident about the BMW i3’s suitability to life on the force. According to BMW’s official press release announcing the purchase order, the two key factors in choosing the i3 as a non emergency vehicle within the LAPD fleet were its sub 7-second 0-60 time and BMW’s customized telematics system designed specifically for use in Emergency fleets.

Based on the same ConnectedDrive system found in civilian BMW i3s, the BMW ConnectedRescue system is designed to integrate with individual Police force emergency dispatch systems, reducing the clutter within the inside of patrol cars but also making it possible for dispatchers to track and interact with each car on the fleet in real time. This in turn speeds up the dispatching process, reduces response times, and makes it possible for officers to be more easily briefed with the latest information on a call ahead of arrival.

BMW has a special version of its Connected Drive telematics designed just for emergency vehicle use.

BMW has a special version of its Connected Drive telematics designed just for emergency vehicle use.

Additionally with the BMW i3, BMW’s ConnectedRescue system makes it easy for dispatchers to keep track of vehicle state of charges, estimated range and predicted charge time, ensuring that officers aren’t left dealing with range anxiety during their work day.

It’s those features which have already seen the BMW i3 find a home in many emergency response duties around the world, ranging from official placement in the Vatican to traditional police forces, fire services and even a secure mobile bank for use at festivals.

While the cars will wear the full LAPD insignia and have a full complement of police equipment on board, the Mayor’s office says that the BMW i3s entering into service in the coming weeks won’t be appearing on the next televised high-speed chase on the 101. Instead, they’ll be used for more sedentary duties, such as transporting officers to non-emergency calls, engaging in community outreach and other low-risk duties.

As for charging? The LAPD says it has that sorted too, thanks to a partnership with charging provider GreenLots, which says it will provide the LAPD with 100 Level 2 charging stations as well as four rapid DC quick charging stations specifically for use by the force.

Do you think the BMW i3 is a good police car? How about the Tesla Model S? And if you were in charge of a fleet of police vehicles, what requirements would you want any electric cars to meet before agreeing to replace your Dodge Chargers and Ford Interceptors?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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