Westport police gets first Tesla squad car
WESTPORT — Days after a driver struck a police cruiser and a disabled vehicle in Norwalk with his Tesla, which he claimed was on autopilot, Westport announced the newest addition to its police department fleet — a fully electric 2020 Telsa Model 3.
The 310-mile range electric vehicle is currently being outfitted with police equipment, including emergency lights and sirens, a computer, weapon rack and and tires capable of sustaining speeds of over 100 mph, according to a Tuesday news release. Police are working with Whelen Engineering Company who will be supplying all the emergency equipment and Fleet Auto Supply, who will be outfitting and installing the equipment to get the vehicle operational by the last week of January.
When asked why he chose the Model 3, Police Chief Foti Koskinas said he “believes in being green” but was primarily impressed by the superior performance, five-star crash ratings, and industry-leading collision avoidance technology available in the Model 3 compared to the town’s typical squad cars. The police department has no plans to use the autopilot feature, the release said.
The initial purchase price of $52,290 was higher than the $37,000 the department would normally spend on adding another Ford Explorer to the fleet, but Koskinas expects to more than make up for that in fuel and maintenance savings over the life of the vehicle.
The savings on gasoline compared to electricity are significant, as well. Using the U.S. Department of Energy’s fuel economy calculator, the department’s energy cost for the Model 3 per mile will be $0.040, while the fuel cost for a Ford Explorer is $0.127 per mile, adding up to a fuel savings of $13,770 in the first three years.
According to Barry Kresch, a member of the leadership team of the EV Club of Connecticut who analyzed the state’s DMV data, this vehicle will join a fleet of 431 electric vehicles already owned by Westport residents, of which 250 are Teslas. Westport is No. 1. per capita in Connecticut in both Tesla ownership and EV ownership overall.
“The economic, environmental and public health benefits of electric vehicles are irrefutable, and it is exciting to see the town of Westport reaping these benefits,” EV Club President Bruce Becker said. “It’s logical for those responsible for public safety to lead the effort in keeping the planet safe by reducing dangerous pollutants and emissions, 38% of which come from the transportation sector. As the first police department on the east coast we know of to add a Tesla squad car to its fleet, Westport is now a national leader in the urgently needed transition to EVs.”
The police department will be planning an open house in the spring so members of the public can see the vehicle in person.