PHOTO CAPTION: BMW i3 is on loan for a year to the Los Angeles Police Department

Agile BMW i3 Joins LAPD

Some pundits call a police version of BMW's i3 electric car 'puny' but its quicker than a Crown Vic and more nimble.

Published: 21-Sep-2015

As part of his Sustainable City pLAn, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city will be leasing 160 electric-drive vehicles, including the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3. In a prepared statement, the Mayor, who had long been a electric vehicle advocate, said, "This year, Los Angeles will become home to the largest city-owned fleet of pure battery electric vehicles anywhere in the country, and we will save taxpayer dollars along the way."

The first 160 vehicles will be deployed with Los Angeles Police, Fire, General Services, and Water and Power departments. An additional 128 electric hybrids (PHEVs) will be put into service with the Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and General Services Department.

Both the Model S P85D and the BMW i3 are on loan to the police department. The 100 EVs being leased LAPD will be used by detectives, investigators, and administrative employees. LADWP already has some 67 electric-drive vehicles in its motor pool. They now will lease an additional 44 new battery electric vehicles and 113 electric hybrid vehicles.

Los Angeles joins Indianapolis and Atlanta in leasing electric-drive vehicles for their city fleets. However, such policies haven't been without their detractors. In LA's case, the addition of the BMW i3 drew disparaging comments about it being "puny," as if all police vehicles should be intimidating. Experiences like Ferguson, Missouri are telling us that this approach is the wrong one, especially if the motto of your department is "To Protect and to Serve."

While the i3 is certainly a much more approachable vehicle, it just happens to be a pretty agile complement to the fleet, something a police force will appreciate. It's 1.7 seconds quicker than a 5.4L Ford Crown Vic, once the standard for all US police patrol cars. Where the police version of the Vic needs 40.3 feet to turn 360 degrees, the i3 needs only 32.3 ft (9.86m). The Vic gets 14mpg in the city, the i3 is rated at 137 mpge, and that's using low-cost electricity. For its intended purpose of providing clean, green, low-cost transportation to police investigators and service personnel, there's nothing puny about it.

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