In December 2020 the Spokane Police Department in Washington State announced plans to purchase four Tesla Model Ys for police use.
The department received them in March, but have been unable to complete the necessary retrofits to make them suitable for daily police use.
However, they have been testing them in a limited capacity while they wait for parts like push bumpers and computer mounts, and they are expected to be ready for full service next week.
Based on early reviews of the officers that have been behind the wheel, the electric SUV has proven less popular than their traditional gas-power counterparts.
The Model Ys were compared against two Ford SUVs – a hybrid and gas powered version in seven metrics – overall experience, steering and braking, suspension, storage, reliability, safety, and comfort.
In a report to the Spokane City Council’s Public Safety and Community Health Committee on Monday, officers rated the hybrid SUV the highest, with the Model Y and gas-powered Ford rated second and third respectively.
The lower score for the Tesla was attributed to low ratings in comfort, reliability, storage, and safety.
The city’s director of fleet services, Rick Giddings, said the safety and reliability ratings could be related to concerns the seats don’t offer enough space for officers to comfortably sit with their utility belts on.
Giddings did note in his presentation that the survey was limited in scope, cautioning they should wait until they have been put into full police use before making a determination on how to further electrify their fleet.
“This is a very small sample based on extremely limited usage and the vehicles being used not as police vehicles,” said Giddings, who added the survey would be “much more accurate and useful in the future.” (via The Spokesman-Review)
Despite the low ratings, their findings show the Model Y costs $0.69 per mile driven, compared to $0.77 and $0.79 for the hybrid and gas-powered SUV respectively. Assuming each is driven 20,000 miles each year, that equates to at least $7,000 in savings over four years.
The savings will be even larger than that as they expect the Model Y to last at least five years, compared to the typical four-year lifespan of their current police vehicles.
Based on the savings seen by other police departments that have been using Tesla vehicles, that number might be conservative.