BOULDER CITY – Chip shortages and supply chain issues have dogged the auto industry since the start of the pandemic. While the personal vehicle market is showing signs of recovery, fleet vehicles are still difficult to purchase. The waitlist for traditional, gas-powered police patrol cars is about 9-12 months. To explore replacement alternatives for an aging fleet, Boulder City Police Department is embarking on an Electric Vehicle (EV) pilot program.
There are twenty-three Boulder City Police Patrol vehicles, with model years of 1999 through 2015, that need to be replaced in the coming years. Repairs are reaching the point where they are no longer cost-effective. The Fleet Management Team determined that replacement is the safest and most fiscally responsible option. The City is using a small portion (less than 2%) of City-Council approved funds from the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) to purchase five EVs, including:
- Two Tesla Model Y
- Two Tesla Model 3
- One Ford Mustang Mach-E
The department has taken delivery of two Model Y vehicles. “The initial price on the electric vehicles is slightly higher than a traditional police interceptor, but fuel and maintenance savings over time make the true cost to own much less than a new Ford Interceptor,” said City Manager Taylour Tedder. “Because these cars are equipped with 360-degree cameras, the City won’t need to spend as much outfitting the cars with cameras. Our objective is two-fold: the safety of our officers and to make sure all available officers are on the roads and visible to our residents.”
Chief Shea says he has done quite a bit of homework on the e-Vehicles, talking to officers and other police chiefs across the country about their experiences. “This pilot program means that we can do an in-depth look at the EVs and determine if they are a good fit for our department,” said Boulder City Police Chief Tim Shea. The City has not put a timeline on the pilot project at this time. There are plans to move vehicles around to explore other EV applications within the City.
The need to replace the aging fleet became even more critical in April when a patrol car on the scene of an accident on I-11 – with emergency lights activated – was destroyed by a distracted driver. “Thankfully, the officer jumped for safety just in time,” said Chief Shea. “Accidents happen, and when they do, it can impact our ability to keep officers out in the field.”