By on September 4, 2020

BMW i3 LAPD Vehicles

In 2014, Mayor Eric Garcetti wanted to show Los Angeles that he would take an active role in spearheading “environmental justice,” announcing several initiatives to combat the city’s notorious air pollution.

One of those efforts involved transitioning government-owned fleets towards battery power and hybridization. By the following year, the LAPD announced it was ready to consider contracts with various automakers ready to help provide the non-emergency administrative unit (which was new at the time) with a fleet of environmentally friendly vehicles.

BMW ultimately won out, resulting in a fleet of i3 hatchbacks — some of which were painted and given lights for traffic enforcement duties or other light police work (e.g. community outreach). The leasing agreement kicked off in 2016 and ultimately cost taxpayers over $10,200,000 when combined with the charging infrastructure that had to be installed to support them. But the department and the mayor started taking heat after the public learned the vehicles were hardly ever used for police business, resulting in a minor scandal.

Notifying the world that the program seems to have been a massive waste of resources didn’t change anything, however. Most vehicles saw little use through 2019 and many are now being sold by the dealership that initially leased them to the LAPD.

According to BMW Blog, California’s New Century BMW started selling the former fleet vehicles with exceptionally low millage for extremely low prices in August. While plenty seem to have already been taken, the site should continue to get a fresh supply as it helped the manufacturer supply the city with 100 cars per year.

From BMW Blog:

The dealership which provided the cars, New Century BMW, is now selling all of them as CPO models. Almost all of them have low miles, under 20,000 miles, and they’re all the same spec. All LAPD BMW i3 BEVs are in the Deka World trim, with the standard 19″ wheels and the older 22 kWh battery pack, despite newer models having been given bigger battery packs. So they only have about 81 miles of max range, at least when new.

If you want a used BMW i3, it might be difficult to pass up this offer. Despite the fact that they’re all base-spec cars that aren’t exactly stylish, though they do come in the desirable “Panda” color scheme. To offset the lack of choice, they are all quite cheap. All LAPD BMW i3 models can be had for under $20,000, which is a steal for a carbon fiber-tubbed BMW EV that retailed for almost $50,000 when new.

We wouldn’t go so far as to call this a stellar deal. Electric vehicles have evolved rather quickly, and the i3 is a good example of that. Old EVs are about as desirable as a vintage smartphone while internal-combustion vehicles tend to age more gracefully.

Still, if you are seriously committed to the environment, the i3 does have an impressively small carbon footprint, and buying a used one is actually better for the planet than splurging on a new electric. Just make sure it’s capable of handling your daily driving responsibilities. Lackluster range was cited as one of the chief reasons the cars were claimed not to be used by the LAPD with any regularity.

BMW i3 LAPD Vehicles

[Image: BMW Group]

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31 Comments on “LAPD’s Green Fleet Goes Back On Sale...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Being the first to adopt or being on the ‘cutting edge’ of technology is historically risky.

    IBM became for a time the largest corporation in the world by being a step behind its competition, waiting until the ‘kinks’ had been worked out and the public had accepted the technology before bringing their own product to market. Changing from that strategy was part of what brought them into crisis.

    Adopting any technology for the sake of being first or having bragging rights is rarely a productive initiative.

    • 0 avatar
      Sceptic

      @Arthur you are absolutely ignorant of computer technology. IBM designed revolutionary systems in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Ever heard of System 360, SAGE? Didn’t think so. Those were breakthrough systems.
      What brought IBM down was destruction of corporate culture in the 80’s and stagnation in the 90’s. Trying to emulate new startups and eventually becoming the Indian Business Machines that it is today.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “… Indian Business Machines that it is today.”

        What does that mean? I’m fairly familiar with IBM’s current work and don’t understand the comment. The current parts of IBM I’m most familiar with is their neuromorphic AI device group in Zurich and their work in quantum computing. They’re definitely leading edge in those areas.

        I think Arthur Daily was referring to their PC business as opposed to their mainframe work. They also waited a year after Remington Rand’s UNIVAC to introduce their first computer.

        My Grandfather did a lot of work with the SAGE system and the Harvard Mark I. Although I was never at a SAGE installation and didn’t see the Mark I until I was a Harvard student, I was around some of the early vacuum tube hardware as a young child. I still remember the scent of the warm vacuum tubes and my dad (I’m 3rd generation) would send me to fetch replacement vacuum tubes from a storage area. I suspect what happened is that while we were out doing something on the weekend, he’d get called in and just took me along.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Sceptic, Obviously you do not know or understand your business history.

        Technology was regarded as complicated, finicky and unreliable.

        IBM is/was International Business Machines and built/sold more than just computer/IT equipment during its history.

        IBM combated the prejudice against adopting new technology/equipment with some simple tactics to build trust and a reputation for reliability. 1) Hire for sales/marketing roles Caucasian male university graduates, who preferably had played sports, 2) ensure that they all always wore blue shirts with white shirts, 3) only market technology that was one generation behind and therefore had the ‘kinks’ worked out.

        These reps were referred to as ‘Itty Bitty Men’. However management among IBM referenced the company name to mean ‘I’ve Been Moved’.

        Thus IBM grew trust among the business community and grew to dominate its industry. Until they veered away from this strategy, due to societal and technological change.

        All business schools taught/learned this about IBM during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Tom Peters may have even referenced it in his top selling but highly criticized book.

        I scratch my head sometimes at people who post insults without understanding/knowing history.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Bad PR stunt.
    Shame on you Garcetti.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Somewhat related to these “failed environmental policies”, the recent power outages, brownouts and blackouts in CA have resulted in a major rethinking of electrical generation for CA and a halt in the dismantling of the gas-extraction plants in CA.

    Seems, “the sun don’t always shine,” or is obscured by smoke from wildfires because “the wind don’t always blow.”

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Where is this rethinking occurring? Names would be helpful, because AFAIK, no ‘leader’ in LA city or county (or Newsom for that matter) have said squat about power generation.

      Much easier to say there’s too many bigots in Arizona so the city won’t do business there. That’s the lack of business maturity we’re dealing with out here.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        jkross22, the item was on the scrolling Right Screen talking points on Bloomberg at night (Chan 203/Dish Network) a few days back.

        https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/california/articles/2020-09-02/approvals-for-new-oil-and-gas-wells-up-in-california

        may help in getting you started in your research.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “Seems, “the sun don’t always shine,” or is obscured by smoke from wildfires because “the wind don’t always blow.””

      That’s why they’re building energy storage facilities. A 250-megawatt system just went online in San Diego county. When the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, you use the energy storage system.

      I haven’t seen anything about California rethinking it’s energy policy. I have seen articles complaining about the difficult permitting process from the green energy industry. It’s difficult to build anything in California apparently. Even solar farms.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      So the basis of your comment is that you saw something scroll by on a TV chyron? That’s it? But you don’t live in California, you don’t know anything about the state or its issues, and clearly the only reason you mention it at all is that you thought it was an opportunity to bang the drum for your political POV. Less of this, please. Seriously.

      • 0 avatar
        Dartdude

        As an ex-Californian, I can say that the windmills off the I-10 near Palm springs are a big eye sore. They need to build a sound wall high enough to block there view from the freeway. As for California they are a reactive governing always behind the problems. They sure can approve a train to nowhere that no ones can afford or will use. The state has big issues that they will never solved. Electricity and water and road congestion are some of the problems. The climate is the only thing that is good and that is slowly getting bad. With all the open land being developed there. It is getting more and more humid. After 53 years I left and don’t regret it!

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          California? Humid? Due to development? There is lots of undeveloped area in Texas that’s dripping wet humid, without people. Let’s fact-check this claim by ‘Dartdude’ with weather.com before cancelling relocation plans. The last time I checked humidity percentages in built-up metro Sacramento, it was 18 percent. Folks in Wash DC and further south would gladly opt for that.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Those who couldn’t make the cut are always envious of those who do and so don’t care about facts and reality .

            California’s O.K., like every where it has good and bad points .

            No one who doesn’t like it here is ever forced to stay nor will they be missed by anyone when they leave .

            -Nate

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Low mileage i3s are listed anywhere from $13-20k, so the LAPD units are probably priced right. But I wouldn’t pay it; there’s still about $5k of BMW badge money in that price.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    what could go wrong with “green” project?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I would drive out to LA and rent a trailer to bring one of these things back home… at that price or less.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    This quote from the 1980s spoof movie Dragnet comes to mind:

    “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.”

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      The Yugo was so well regarded, that in the Balkan War of the 1999, NATO aircraft (mostly US, flying from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, or from Italian bases) completely leveled the plant that built them. At the time, most of California felt that this was a “thank you” for those fine Yugos, rather than a NATO strategic move.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Ah…the virgin Connie Swail.

      Back when Hanks was funny.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Another predictable failure by the city of Los Angeles. But if you ask anyone on Spring Street, they’ll tell you how successful it was.

    The decoupling of reality from city politics out here is truly something to behold. And yet, in the last city election, less than 15% of the electorate took the time to vote.

    “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.” – Joseph de Maistre

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.” – Joseph de Maistre

      Thank you for the citation.

      Now, if I could only find who coined the phrase, “Americans always get exactly what they deserve, because (They or We,The People) vote for it.”

      It wasn’t me.

      It is a quote I wrote down when I was attending Graduate school way back in the early 1980s.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Ah…the virgin Connie Swail.

      Back when Hanks was funny.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Any time government tries to do something for the “optics” of it, the taxpayer gets to bend over and take it.

  • avatar

    That is a great news! Now lets defund police and let criminals out of prisons and on the streets. Because Angelinos deserve it.

  • avatar
    brn

    5000 miles per year on an EV fleet vehicle?

    Sounds about right.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I remember these, _NO_ONE_ wanted to drive them ~ not even the secretaries who were always looking for a free car to drive to lunch….

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    In the government sector, waste and abuse like this goes unpunished and continues unabated. In the private sector, actions like this are rewarded with bankruptcy. That’s why I’m always for smaller government.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “In the government sector, waste and abuse like this goes unpunished and continues unabated.”

      In the private sector, this kind of waste and abuse is called CEO compensation.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    Just as Domino’s Pizza has special delivery vehicles, why don’t the local Panda Express outlets make a deal for a number of them, now that Los Angeles and the nation are in largely take-out/delivery mode.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Multiple problems with this deal:

    1) They picked a loser, BMW i3 is a bad car for the range and you can see that they are just useless. They should have picked a plug in prius, fusion, or Tesla. But they didn’t write the spec right and let this loser of a car in. Heck, did they even order REX? No wonder people don’t want to drive it.

    2) The whole government fleet is just wasteful no matter what cars you buy, a few thousand miles a year sound about right.

    3) They should have split up the charging infrastructure project from the car leasing project, so they don’t take the political hit for wasting money on infrastructure.

    4) Nobody would have though Tesla pulled off the publicity stunt, but at least they don’t look stupid picking an EV deal, just the wrong car company to deal with. Had they gotten Tesla people would use it more and they would have gotten quite a bit of residual back in the end.

    5) Had oil price gone to the roof like 2007 they would have looked like a smart decision, but oil price tanked. This is how predicting a future with investment look like, it would look smart or stupid depends on which way the market goes.

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