Electric vehicles could be the norm for road policing in Australia within just 10 years’ time, Victoria Police has said, after revealing on Monday it had welcomed a Tesla Model X into the fold of its highway patrol operational fleet.
The use of the all-electric five-seater SUV marks a first for an Australian police organisation, and makes Victoria one of the first jurisdictions in the world to use an EV for operational duties.
In a statement on Monday, Victoria Police said the “one-off procurement” of the US-made luxury EV was part of a feasibility study into developing fully integrated electric, IT-based police vehicles for fleet use.
VicPol said it would be collaborating with Tesla engineers, emergency equipment manufacturers, and its own vehicle installation contractor and IT and communications technicians in integrating police equipment and software into the Model X’s on-board system.
The SUV – which can go from 0-100km/h in under five seconds, and features Tesla’s iconic “falcon wing doors” – will be a fully fitted and functioning Highway Patrol vehicle and will be trialled across various regions in consultation with the Road Policing Command, a statement said.
“This is the future, there’s no doubt about it,” said Inspector Stuart Bailey from State Highway Patrol in a Victoria Police video posted on Twitter.
“This is a fully electric car that’s going to change our fleet in Victoria Police. I can see in 10 years time that every one of our cars will be electric cars.”
In Victoria, as in most of the country’s other states and territories, police patrol vehicles and unmarked cars traditionally have been either Ford or Holden high performance (gas guzzling) ICE cars.
Recently, in New South Wales, the police force there changed it up a bit by rolling out some turbo-diesel BMWs and V8-powered Chrysler sedans will be rolled out across the state from next month.
So the adoption of an electric car as a police squad car – and one of Elon Musk’s hugely popular creations, no less – is quite a big deal.
“This vehicle is unlike any other Victoria Police has ever had in its fleet and could well be the future of road policing in this state, country and the world,” Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane said.
“This car gives us the opportunity to investigate having these technologies in a fully integrated in-car system which has the potential of streamlining the road policing effort.
On top of the speed, performance and high-tech capabilities of the Tesla, Victoria Police names “great environmental benefits” as one of the key reasons it is trialling the use of electric vehicles.
“Considering our State Highway Patrol vehicles travel thousands of kilometres on the road per year, we should always be looking at ways we can lessen our impact on the environment,” AC Leane said.
But while this might be a first for Australia, the switch to electric vehicles by law enforcement organisations is happening all around the world.
Just last week, AutoBlog reported that the police department in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen had ordered up 13 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric, after the EV met the criteria of costing less than $US50,000, having over 100kW (134 horsepower), and having a range of more than 400km.
Five of those Konas will be used as patrol cars, Autblog said, and the other eight will be left unmodified and used for non-patrol duties.
Germany, which last year introduced a number of hybrid Mercedes EVs into its police fleet, could not be far off introducing all-electric models, considering the plans of parent company, Daimler, to be producing 25 per cent battery electric vehicles by 2025, and the country’s new ambitious EV target.
In in the US, the Hyattsville Police Department in the state of Maryland last year integrated a Chevy Bolt EV into its patrol fleet. And last but not least, in the home town of Tesla – Fremont, California – the police department there has, predictably, converted a Model S to a patrol vehicle.
In Victoria, meanwhile, the police department is keen to stress that the use of the fully electric Model X for highway patrols is still firmly in the feasibility stage.
“It is important to remember this is a concept vehicle for Victoria Police and we acknowledge that it will produce a number of unique circumstances and will continue to evolve as police software is integrated,” AC Leane said.
“Vehicles are obviously critical to the work we do as they represent the mobile office for many of our frontline police and projects such as these mean that when the switch does inevitably happen, our job of keeping Victorians safe will not be compromised.”
Inspector Bailey seems confident, however, that EVs like the Model X are the way to go – based on performance and safety alone.
“This has been independently tested, and this has been determined as the best car in our fleet,” he said in the video.
“In performance, braking and handling, it is the best car, it is the most stable car we have on our road at the present time.
“We just want to see it working in its natural environment, if you like, for police to go through their normal road policing enforcement duties,” he said.
Keen-eyed motorists can look for it mostly in the state’s south-east, on the roads of the Bass Coast, the Latrobe Valley, and in Casey and Dandenong.
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