Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief, Charlie Beck, announced in June that the LAPD is fielding 100 BMW i3 fully-electric vehicles to the streets of L.A. With the eerily quiet rollout of the new electric vehicles, the LAPD will now have the largest field of “pure EV” municipal law enforcement vehicles in the nation, just after Portland, Oregon.

The cars will be cheaper to power than gas-engine vehicles, and can run for nearly 100 miles per full charge. The BMW i3 is the most fuel-efficient EPA-certified vehicle, according to the German car maker. But the new, energy-efficient vehicles hardly inspire the same reaction at first glance as the old Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor, or the LAPD’s Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles, which are basically upgraded Ford Explorers.

Mayor Garcetti said that the new fleet of electric vehicles is not a gimmick, but the wave of the future. LAPD Chief Beck stated that the new vehicles will not be used for hot pursuits or even patrols. The BMW i3s will be used for non-emergency, non-patrol purposes. Instead the new BMW i3s will be used as transportation vehicles for officers and in community outreach initiatives.

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Los Angeles has a plan to make 80% of all city fleet purchases electric by 2025, and the LAPD is the first department to move toward that goal. The aim is to get more than 500 electric vehicles on the roads over the next 5 years. Greenlots is supplying 100 Level 2 chargers, which take about an hour to supply a car battery with a full charge, and 4 DC fast chargers, which take about 30 minutes. The trouble with DC fast chargers is that they put an extra demand on the electric grid, particularly during peak hours, and they cost about four to five times more than a Level 2 charger.

Because the city acquired the BMW i3s under a three-year lease, the LAPD can change up vehicles as technology evolves. LAPD Chief Beck said that the department is actively monitoring the industry to keep an eye out for electric vehicles that could be suitable as patrol cars, capable of engaging in high-speed pursuits. Could the LAPD be driving souped-up Teslas in a few years? Who knows?

The deal with BMW also includes the training of police department mechanics on how to maintain and repair electric vehicles. Overall, the leasing of the 100 BMW i3s brings the city’s fleet of electric vehicles up to 199. Mayor Garcetti says he wants at least half of new city vehicles to be electric, with 80% electric by 2025.

The greening initiative of the LAPD’s fleet is part of Mayor Garcetti’s larger initiative to improve the quality of life for pedestrians and reduce the number of polluting cars on L.A.’s congested roadways. Late last year, Garcetti announced 15 so-called Great Streets that will be re-engineered with pedestrians and sidewalk businesses in mind.

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(all data current as of 10/17/2017)

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