Ontario Police Trick out a Tesla Model X to Talk About Electrification

Can electrification be the future of police cars in the near future? Some Canadian police may think so.

byRob Stumpf|
Tesla News photo

One of the most feared headlights to see in your rearview mirror are that of a police interceptor. Often the very sight of them quietly persuades you to watch your driving habits a little bit better, and somehow makes your right foot a wee bit lighter on the accelerator pedal. At the Canadian International Auto Show, one particular police department is showing off the newest cruiser unit for the department, but you might not recognize its headlights right away.

Ontario's Provincial Police have brought a Tesla Model X with them to the Canadian International Auto Show, completely decked out in a traditional black-and-white police paint-scheme with strobes and an O.P.P. monogram on either door.

Unfortunately, the department doesn't own the vehicle it seems. Sgt. Kerry Schmidt noted that a friend of the department has loaned his vehicle to O.P.P. and allowed them to transform the Model X into a talking point for the future of policing. This opens up a whole new conversation about just how electric cars could be used to benefit police around the world, and potentially save the taxpayer some coin along the way.

Aside from the obvious lack of police gadgets inside the car, Schmidt mentions that the Model X is not going to see service simply because the platform has not been tested and rated as a pursuit vehicle. Manufacturers like Ford work hard to create "pursuit rated" vehicles to sell, meaning they are tested to withstand a bit more strenuous use. Typically, this can mean stiffer springs, a big oil cooler, more performance bits, and general testing by the manufacturer to ensure durability. He goes on to call on Tesla to add another vehicle to its commercial repertoire.

"That may be the future of policing down the road," said Sgt Schmidt, "It's not there today, but will be down the road. You never know."

In actuality, electric police cars are not a new thing. In fact, the first police car in the United States that was used in Akron, Ohio in 1899 was powered by a—you guessed it—electric powerplant. The Collins Buddy Company built the paddy-wagon for city officials who purchased it for the sum of $2,400 (more than $66,000 when adjusted for inflation). The 5,000 pound beast could travel up to 30 miles at a staggering 18 mph. Despite being stolen and pushed into the Ohio Canal only a year into service during the Akron riot of 1900, the Collins was used until 1905 when it was beaten out by newer gasoline-powered vehicles, forcing the town to sell off the piece of history for just $25.

The Ontario Provincial Police haven't been the only department in the world to have considered making use of a Tesla vehicle in its fleet. In the good ol' US-of-A, Los Angeles began testing the Model S as a "high-pursuit-rated vehicle" in late-2016. Denver Colorado, another booming area of electrification, converted a Model S into a cruiser just last year. In Europe, the Luxembourg Police department have considered making use of the Model S, though the vehicles also required testing before bringing them live into circulation. Scotland Yard had also considered electrifying London's fleet of vehicle, purchase 250 within the next year.

One of the biggest questions that Schmidt raises is just if electrification is right for police at its current state. He calls the Model X the "future" of policing, which some officers may disagree with. As technology improves in these cars, specifically the time it takes to recharge a vehicle to full capacity, police departments may be willing to eat a bit more of the upfront cost for the savings of electric, but the fact that police departments are beginning to have these talks is reassuring the progress is being made.