Tesla police cars could soon be a common sight on our road if reported positive reviews from UK forces are to be believed.
The US firm provided a £60,000 police-liveried Model 3 to be used by forces up and down the country earlier this year, with Tesla claiming it has received ‘mind blowing’ reports from officers as well as public support.
A synopsis of the first nine months of the trial published this week says the electric cars are capable of running for up to four hours of continuous ‘advanced driving conditions’ and says charging during shifts has been working with officers plugging into the brand’s Supercharger network.
A ‘mind blowing’ police car: This electric Model 3 is being used by forces up and down the country as part of a trial since the first quarter of 2021. Tesla says it is impressing officers
Tesla UK confirmed back in June that it has provided a full Battenberg-painted Model 3 electric car, fully modified with blues-and-twos and other required features of a patrol vehicle, for a nationwide trial.
The precise specification of the Tesla saloon has not been revealed by the car maker, however the wheels suggest it is the ‘Performance’ variant of the top-selling EV.
This means it has all-wheel drive and can accelerate from zero to 60mph in around 3.1 seconds.
Top speed is a claimed 162mph, which should be more than fast enough to catch most offenders.
For members of the public, this iteration of the Model 3 would cost £59,990.
Max Toozs-Hobson, Tesla’s Emergency Services Lead who is overseeing the trials, has provided a nine-month update on the reception the car has received from officers, with some ‘great results’.
He says forces have found that it is ‘achievable’ to use the Model 3 for over 200 miles of ‘Blue Light advance driving’.
With the average blue light run in the UK being between seven and 15 minutes, Toozs-Hobson claims the Model 3 has been used for over four hours on active deployment under ‘advanced driving conditions’.
The precise specification of the Tesla saloon has not been revealed by the car maker, however the wheels suggest it is the ‘Performance’ variant of the top-selling EV
The trial also found that some of the additional features bolted onto – and into – the Model 3 for policing purposes are having different impacts on performance.
It claims that auxiliary systems have been found to have a minimal impact on range.
For instance, the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system being used for three hours takes a ‘few miles’ of range off the claimed 340-mile range and the LED lights could run for days off the battery pack.
Light bars are like running with a parachute!
Max Toozs-Hobson, Account Manager & Emergency Services Lead at Tesla
However, some adaptations will likely need to be made if the Model 3 is to be deployed as a cop car across the country, most notably the position of the blues and twos.
‘Light bars are like running with a parachute,’ says Toozs-Hobson, suggesting they are impacting the vehicle’s driving range.
The solution would be the integrate the lights into the car cabin, which would also mean no holes need to be drilled into the roof to mount a light bar, which also benefits the residual values of the cars once they are taken out of active service.
Tesla is making this test car available for those forces, brigades and other agencies wanting to trial Model 3 as an emergency response vehicle
Tesla’s account manager added that officers had been charging the vehicle during their shifts without any issues.
‘Last week I joined a traffic unit who got into the car with just 80 miles of range,’ he said in a LinkedIn post.
‘We stopped at a V3 Supercharger and gained 70 per cent power in less than 20 minutes.
‘This gave us another five to six hours of driving for the shift. Plus this fill up cost less than £20.’
Officers have been able to use the Model 3’s integrated USB C ports to power laptops on scene or during short charging sessions – as well as the wireless charging pad integrated into the centre console.
Toozs-Hobson says forces have also been using standard features including ‘Chill’ mode and the speed limiter, allowing the possibility for more officers to test its capabilities as a patrol vehicle.
He also claims that public response to seeing the police-liveried Model 3 has been ‘mind blowing’, with the trial described as ‘an incredible engagement tool’.
Tesla says the light bar mounting the blues and twos has been acting as a parachute and future development of a Model 3 cop car would see the lights integrated in to the vehicle’s cabin
The single vehicle will continue to be shared across forces for the rest of the year as part of the review by the emergency services to understand the advantages and potential pitfalls of different battery-powered vehicles.
And it won’t only be the police putting the plug-in vehicle to the test.
Rapid response emergency services, such as the fire brigade, will also have the opportunity to use the zero-emission car during the trial period.
Tesla UK says the motor has been offered to forces in line with the Government’s Road to Zero strategy, with emergency services testing the feasibility of using electric vehicles ahead of the 2030 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans.
‘Tesla is making this test car available for those forces, brigades and other agencies wanting to trial Model 3 as an emergency response vehicle,’ the auto maker told us at the beginning of the trial.
‘Model 3’s performance allows for quick response in both urban and rural environments,’ Tesla added.
The Tesla Model 3 has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, meaning it should be able to protect officers in a high-speed shunt.
Tesla adds: ‘Model 3 can present savings over internal combustion engine vehicles with low maintenance requirements and industry leading efficiency.
‘The car will be trialled by fire brigades, medical rapid response and police forces in a variety of roles. The adaptations and livery were completed by industry supplier, Halls Electrical Ltd.’
Metropolitan Police has been using electric cars in recent years, including the zero-emission BMW i3 pictured
The move to trial the Model 3 as an emergency response vehicle in Britain mirrors that of deployments for the popular EV with several police forces in the United States.
Tesla has yet to confirm if any UK forces have come forward with an interest in the Model 3 so far.
It won’t be the first electric model to be used by the police in the UK.
Gloucester Constabulary added no fewer than 75 battery-electric cars to its fleet a year ago, the majority of them being the UK-made Nissan Leaf.
Metropolitan Police also has a number of BMW i3s it uses in the capital along with 11 hydrogen fuel-cell Toyota Mirais.
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