By on October 19, 2016

OJ Simpson chased by a fleet of LAPD BMW i3s, Image: © 2016 Kevin McCauley/The Truth About Cars

The Los Angeles Police Department loves the idea of Tesla patrol cars so much, it’s rekindling a dream it put on ice earlier this year.

The city’s coffers haven’t suddenly become flush with cash, and a previous testing cycle saw the LAPD cross the automaker off its list of potential electric vehicle suppliers. Still, it looks like the idea of a black-and-white Tesla Model S with Ludicrous Mode is just too great to pass up.

According to NBC Los Angeles, the LAPD will test a Model S as a patrol car. This, despite the department handing back two Model S P85D demonstration vehicles earlier this year with the complaint that they are simply too expensive. It greened its fleet with a crop of BMW i3s for non-emergency use instead.

One of those two vehicles saw a LAPD paint job, but it remained stock and neither went to work patrolling the mean streets of the City of Angels. This time, the force plans to install the full gamut of cop hardware, non-electric shotgun and rack included. Once outfitted, the vehicle goes to work.

Vartan Yegiyan, assistant commander of the LAPD’s Administrative Services Bureau, claims the vehicle should be on the road next year. Assigned to an on-duty sergeant, the Model S will respond to emergencies, and, if the situation calls for it, chase perps. That’s a copter-filmed pursuit we’d like to see.

There’s few vehicles on the road today that can challenge the Tesla’s acceleration, but cost remains an issue. A well-equipped Model S P90D carries a $114,500 cash price. Move up to the longer range P100D and the sticker soars to $134,500. Ford and Dodge needn’t be worried about losing law enforcement market share any time soon.

However, the LAPD is serious about adding tailpipe-free vehicles to its patrol fleet. The department predicts another five years will pass before EVs make it into that fleet.

[Image: © 2016 Kevin McCauley/The Truth About Cars]

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20 Comments on “The LAPD Just Can’t Quit the Idea of Electric Patrol Cars...”


  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    A few months ago I pulled up behind an identical white Bronco at a stoplight. It had a bumper sticker that said “Not OJ”.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    In the previous demonstration test, I believe another issue was a surprising dearth of Superchargers in the LA area.

    Hey, at least a Model S could have kept up for OJ’s 59-mile run:
    http://www.thewrap.com/o-j-simpsons-slow-speed-chase-how-it-would-play-out-today/

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    As a low-speed cruiser with high-speed capability, it seems the Tesla might be a good pick. It’s very possible the shift was intentional in order to put one under long-term testing as an interceptor rather than ordinary patrol. It may not have the top end to pursue supercars, but it seems supercars are not the primary choice of bank robbers and murderers, either.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      There is no such thing as an “interceptor” vs an “ordinary patrol” car in LAPD, or any other police agency with which I am familiar.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        from that statement, I would assume you are unfamiliar with many police departments. While they may not use the word ‘interceptor’, they tend to keep one or two special cars for pursuit purposes simply because of their power and performance. Even my local police department has one Dodge Charger that’s capable of more acceleration and handling than the rest of their fleet–most of which consists of Chevrolet Impalas and Ford Fusions.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Let’s say Officer is driving a Tesla Model S Darth Insanious Edition at breakneck speeds and pulls up to the rear bumper of the Lamborghini Huracan housing the fleeing scum of the earth, what does he do then? Pit maneuver it into oblivion and kill everyone? Cops will need a way to stop self driving cars, and wrecking an iPhone isn’t the most practical way of turning one off.

  • avatar

    What happens if LAPD’s hot pursuit cars run out of erh… juice while chasing bad guys?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Do LA’s police cars run out of gas while chasing baddies today?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Most chases don’t run more than 50 miles at the longest. Very few that I can recall have run farther. Even at maximum output, a P100D would probably have more than enough juice for the chase and still have enough to either return home or reach an available charging station. Wouldn’t even need to be a Supercharger.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      I envision a series of Tesla Superchargers along the freeways. Then they can re-charge and chase in serial fashion

      Nudge, nudge, wink, wink!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I don’t know how LA can justify the expense of a Model S, unless Tesla broke its own rule and gave them a discount for this and future patrol cars.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Agreed, but I bet they did. I think BMW gave them a pretty good deal or I doubt those cars would have been affordable either.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      SCE, Exactly, Even if the city did get a break on price, the optics don’t look good for a town that’s committed to spend $100 million fighting homelessness. Maybe they’ll let the homeless sleep in the Tesla?

  • avatar
    JMII

    In half the cop chases I’ve seen either the perp or officer crashes at some point… often into each other. This only make sense in that many people in LA drive Tesla’s already so as a cop car it would actually blend in.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Best Photoshop, ever

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Quick acceleration is meaningless. Most chases are not high speed, and involve multiple police cars and a police helicopter keeping the perp in sight, even after he/she/it abandons the vehicle. You can’t outrun the radio, or hide from the eye in the sky.

    Where there IS an interaction between police car and chasee, the police are not shy about ramming and blocking with their own vehicles, so more relatively cheap, disposable patrol cars makes more sense than a few high pursuit vehicles, especially in a city with the population and traffic of Los Angeles.

    There might be a modest cost saving over fuel costs, especially since the City of Los Angeles owns its own municipal electric company, but that savings is lost when the vehicles become more expensive to buy. My gut reaction is that higher-ups in city government and the police department are pushing electric cars, not the patrolmen on the beat.

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