By on May 13, 2016


It was nice of Tesla founder Elon Musk to deliver a Model S P85D to the Los Angeles Police Department for testing last year, but they’re kindly going to return it. Possibly with a note under the wiper asking him to make it much cheaper.

The hyper-performing electric sedan took up residence with the LAPD (along with a BMW i3) last September, part of a research initiative that studied how EVs could fit into a future policing model.

With testing over and grades handed out, the LAPD can now say with confidence that the Model S isn’t their cup of tea. The speed was nice, but the price? This isn’t Dubai.

“Is it practical now? No,” LAPD Police Administrator Vartan Yegiyan told CNBC, adding that he expects to see the price of EVs drop in the next three to five years as technology advances.

“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 offering a “Ludicrous Mode” that rockets the Model S to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds, and could catch pretty much anything on wheels, police departments could buy three Ford Police Interceptor Utility models (Explorer) for the price of one Tesla.

There are other considerations for the LAPD — with the city’s hot climate, a police cruiser’s air conditioning system gets regular workouts. That, plus the officer’s computer system and other electric add-ons, would drain the battery and reduce range.

Many cities, L.A. and New York City to name just a couple, are adding EVs and plug-in hybrids to their fleets, but municipal vehicles are lighter duty, less specialized affairs. For now, police departments need a gas-powered workhorse that doesn’t break the bank.

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45 Comments on “LAPD to Tesla: ‘Thanks, But Maybe Some Other Time’...”

  • avatar

    Imagine a police force with Blacked-out, High speed pursuit donut tire wearing SRT HELLCATS – complete with pushbars and aerodynamic efficient lighting.

    FEDS with Blacked out 300 SRT and Blacked-out Jeep SRT.

    certainly commands more respect than a bunch of Ford Taurses and Edges and Priuses…

    • 0 avatar

      Wait, isn’t the police pursuit version, in practical terms, close to the same? Granted it has less HP, but in traffic and limited pursuit, not sure it really matters and it still has upgraded suspension, and perhaps even better brakes than the hellcat. You can even get ballistic door panels. No one does high speed pursuit anymore.

      • 0 avatar

        High speed pursuit isn’t dead. It still happens – regularly. And then there are situations where the police need to get somewhere quickly – and I mean 200mph quickly. Especially when you are in sparsely populated states with long open roadways and huge distances between towns.

      • 0 avatar

        High speed pursuits aren’t needed in urban areas because the police have helicopters to follow the fugitive and many officers on duty to box him in. That doesn’t work in rural areas without such resources. A rural cop’s options are limited to chasing the fugitive down himself or transmitting a description by radio in the hope that someone else may stumble across him.

    • 0 avatar

      Always with the Hellcats.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, because it’s such a public safety boost to have 200 MPH squad cars zig zagging in traffic to chase down one gang banger on a 2 ounce weed beef./s

      Many areas have actually de-escalated pursuits-supervisors sometimes call them off whenever the risk of an accident was too high. If a suspect is moving so fast you need 700 Hp pursuit vehicles to keep up, screw it. It’s not worth a nasty wreck for the cops ,the bystanders, or the guy getting chased.

      Let him go and call the next jurisdiction or air support

      • 0 avatar


        That’s acquiescing to crime. YOU NEVER acquiesce to crime.

        Your job is to bring criminals to justice.

        To make examples of them.

        To show them that they cannot escape the law.

        If all else fails to bring them in safely, they must be eliminated from the equation.

        #2 Pursuits have NOT been de-escalated. They end up GIVING UP because they have pathetic engines in their cars and the competition is in cars putting out twice and sometimes three times as much performance.

        #3 If you need a “pursuit” vehicle for any reason, you want THE BEST.


        • 0 avatar

          Police in pursuit kill bystanders. This is not a freakn game. Other are safer ways to catch criminals.

          • 0 avatar

            “This is not a freakn game.”

            I disagree.

            It’s the game of Darwinism.

            The fastest criminal evades police and lives free to reproduce a new generation of criminals of his own.


            The faster police officer catches the criminal and therefore keeps the streets safer for his own brood of little police officers.

            And of course:

            Innocent bystanders are a type of passive eugenics in action. Those who manage to have big, heavy protective cars survive. Those who have SMART Fortwos, Versa Notes and other substandard cars – just don’t.

          • 0 avatar

            It would always be worth pursuing a criminal if it were the last time it would need to be done. But it’s not worth the risk to the public just to give them a slap on the wrist and send them back out.

            It is just a game. If it weren’t, intentionally harming others simply wouldn’t be acceptable.

    • 0 avatar

      Chrysler would be smart to offer a 6.4L Enforcer model (slated for high speed) while keeping the same wheels and tires, but the HELLCAT is too far above and beyond what cops could control on the street.

      I actually believe that the next generation of cars are going to have a software program that will limit speed unless the lights are activated and a supervisor sends an “OK” signal to the car in pursuit.

      • 0 avatar

        Yep. My thoughts exactly. If you want to see cops dying in flaming Hellcat wrecks then this is what you would want. Arent they all $70,000+ starting?

  • avatar

    Very few things are faster than a radio wave.

    • 0 avatar

      “You can outrun the Mopar, but not the Motorola”.

      If you run, chances are better than half that you will be busted by someone ahead of you. All police agencies are notified and will show up to the party.

      Turn a traffic ticket into a felony ? Easy.

  • avatar

    Having been in government procurement for some time, to use unit cost at this scale as a criteria for rejection seems pretty silly. I also highly doubt that any ounce of negotiation has occurred with regards to contract unit cost and it really should not have started.

    Now, battery draw, heavy daily usage, I can see that being a concern.

    • 0 avatar

      I see issues like battery drawing power and officer comfort scuttling the idea before price is genuinely considered. I also have no doubt a large dept. such as LAPD will have at least one of these in its possession soon enough through asset forfeiture, so the model and technology will continue to be evaluated in some way.

  • avatar

    Cost control from the police force. Now they can buy more off-label anti-personnel military equipment for “riots”!

  • avatar

    Except for long trips, private citizens’ electric vehicles are stationary most of the time during which they can recharge. Police vehicles are in almost constant use unless they need maintenance. At shift change, they are out of service just long enough to swap drivers and refill the fuel tank. There isn’t time to recharge a battery.

  • avatar

    Nice PR exercise, but otherwise a non-starter.

  • avatar

    I would think that since power is gobbled up at a high rate under low and high speed, range anxiety in the large region that is LA, along with down time for charging, even with a supercharger, were also issues.

    Car 54 can be there in 23 minutes because we’re charging right now isn’t a good response. There is no such thing as a “splash and dash” with a Tesla.

  • avatar

    Just install the Superchargers in front of every donut shop and I don’t see how this wouldn’t work.

  • avatar

    At least this avoids the need to pass a law that requires a fleeing felon to stop if the pursuit vehicle runs low on electricity.

  • avatar

    After losing the two previous vehicles we had been issued, the only car the department was willing to release to us at this point was an unmarked 1987 Yugo, a Yugoslavian import donated to the department as a test vehicle by the government of that country and reflecting the cutting edge of Serbo-Croatian technology.

  • avatar

    Have you seen the way police officers drive? At least in the low-crime middle-middle class neighbourhood I live in, police routinely speed at double the speed limit, accelerate very aggressively for no reason, they don’t slow down for speed bumps, they climb curbs, and they absolutely never ever use their turn signals.

    You want to give those officers a 500+ HP machine worth $80k? The department insurance policy would be through the roof. If you really want to lower costs, buy them all f Fuision/Malibu hybrids and a few Tahoe PPVs or Explorers for heavy duty roles.

    • 0 avatar

      I have observed this as well and agree 100%. As badly as the police drive, they may as well let the crappy domestic offerings take the beating instead of something nice such as the Tesla.

    • 0 avatar

      Amen. I saw some cop in a Tahoe PPV super-aggressively tailgating in the highway – not in pursuit, just driving like a prick because he could. I actually stopped in at the Highway Patrol office to complain. They’re like “yeah, we know who that is.” If there were ever vehicles that needed automatic braking, it’s cop cars. Habitually speeding with insufficient following distance while looking down at the computer in a vehicle with useless full-metallic brake pads, while high on authority and/or steroids…bad news.

  • avatar

    Range is a big item, but so is durability. The wheels and suspension are far to fragile for police duty.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. The officer does not own the car, and it is more important to catch the offender than worry about a scratch. Kind of like a taxi fleet but with triple digit speeds.

      Cop cars end up being tossed over curbs, off road, and for them abuse is daily use.

      Major car makers know exactly how stout they need parts to be, ranging from a Yaris to a Hummer. Even though Tesla probably has the knowledge, they don’t have a variety of production lines and suppliers to make a “police package” Tesla. Also, having worked near govt, cop cars are like taxis, they don’t sit idle for long. People change, car keeps running.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I think they just don’t want to spend the money. Everything else is a lame excuse, except one.

    “More models will be coming out” – How many do you need?

    “…the electricity and electrical grid will become more robust, and more charging stations will be available” – This is a legitimate concern, to my surprise. LA only has 4 Superchargers nearby it, and that’s not enough for quick, impromptu refills during police work.

    “…a police cruiser’s air conditioning system gets regular workouts” – A/C in an EV consumes very little power. Cabin heat is another story.

    “…the officer’s computer system and other electric add-ons would drain the battery and reduce range.” – I’d like to see the math on this. A Model S battery could power an entire 2-story house for 3 or 4 days. Those add-ons are nothing compared to the drivetrain power.

  • avatar

    For how police cars are used this would be useless. “Sorry someone is trying to murder you, but our car is out of propulsion and it takes HOURS to refuel it”

  • avatar

    Other than paying for them, LAPD loved them. Folks would complain if LAPD bought Tesla’s, so instead LAPD spends millions for armored vehicles, mobile command centers, and batons for black folks.

  • avatar

    FWIW ;

    the L.A.P.D. isn’t anywhere near done with electric vehicles yet ~ they’re testing BMW’s tiny little thing right now and training the Mechanics because they anticipate buying a bunch of them for Metro cars , Dispatch , errands and other non patrol / chase use .
    They’re even saying they’re going to re hab the old Central Automotive’s Unit Rebuild area into a new stat of the art Electric Vehicle Training Center .
    I’m glad I retired =8-) .
    Anyone who thinks high speed chases are finished , lives in a cave in who givesadamnastan .
    I’d love to share the photos of all the B&W wrecks but they asked me not to .
    Explorers are CRAP for Patrol duty .

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