Police in Fremont will soon be testing a customized 2014 Tesla Model S 85 to see if the more expensive electric car will pay off in the long run.
The city bought the Tesla this month for $61,478 to replace a 2007 Dodge Charger scheduled to be taken out of service, Fremont police said this week.
The Police Department modified the Tesla, adding equipment such as a light bar, push bumper and ballistic barriers, at a cost of $4,447.
The Tesla has a higher initial price tag, but police say that the long-range tab for a gas-powered police vehicle could be higher over time.
By comparison, a Ford Explorer with police modifications costs about $40,000, police said. The cost of gas over five years for the Explorer amounts to about $32,000, and maintenance is about $15,000, according to Fremont police.
In addition, the average life cycle of a traditional police vehicle is approximately five years, but it's hoped that the electric patrol car may be operational for longer due to less mechanical issues.
The pilot program to test the Tesla patrol car is part of the city's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from a baseline of 2005, by the year 2020.
"Given that the Fremont police vehicle fleet is responsible for a total of 980 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, this program has the potential to eliminate 10 percent of all municipal greenhouse gas emissions," Fremont police Capt. Sean Washington said in a news release.
Buying and outfitting a Tesla as a patrol car also means the city is buying local since Tesla electric vehicles are manufactured in Fremont.
To support plug-in vehicles, the Fremont police complex has solar carport structures installed onsite and three charging stations. In addition, electricity coming from the Police Department renewable solar power structure means that each police fleet vehicle replaced with an electric vehicle will completely zero out the greenhouse gas emissions associated with that vehicle's operation.
The pilot program team will monitor performance, durability, range, costs, and other unknowns.
Just on Monday, Fremont police said the department started using Ford F-150 trucks as patrol vehicles, replacing two older patrol vehicles decommissioned because of age and condition.