LAPD Dumps Tesla, Picks BMW For Fleet Duty

You got a problem with that?

LAPD BMW
AP Photo/Nick Ut

When news broke last month that the Los Angeles Police Department had been experimenting with electric vehicles, everybody honed in on the inevitable winner. Of course Tesla would win the contract. How could it not? The Model S is built in California. Also, it’s as much a fashion accessory as a mode of transportation, and, c'mon, this is L.A. we’re talking about. Then, at the bottom of every story, a footnote: “The department is also currently testing the BMW i3 as a potential candidate.” As ever, don’t sleep on the Germans.

The LAPD has announced that the i3, not the Model S, will be its EV of choice. That means BMW wins the sought-after status bump, as well as a contract to supply the department with 100 new electric cruisers. Each car will also get its own on-site Level 2 charger, in addition to the LAPD’s four surplus D/C fast chargers, courtesy of a joint venture with energy distributor Greenlots. The BMWs will be handed over on a three-year lease, then join the non-emergency fleet this spring. Once that happens, the LAPD says it’ll have "the largest fully battery-powered municipal fleet" in the nation.

Of course, the decision wasn’t about performance: Tesla’s sedan trumps BMW’s city car in range, room, and acceleration. But the former’s sticker price is more than twice that of the latter. The LAPD’s transport division boss says each i3 will cost the force $387 per month; factoring in maintenance and repairs, the total price of the three-year deal amounts to roughly $1.4 million. Hardly chump change, and big step forward for the integration of EVs into the ranks of law enforcement.