Nova Scotia

Bridgewater police say new electric cruiser 'performing better' than expected

A $72,000 electric police cruiser purchased for Nova Scotia's Bridgewater Police Service in February is officially patrolling the streets.

Tesla patrol vehicle runs for about two full shifts between charges, chief says

Bridgewater police say the Tesla Model 3's monthly charging costs equal about three days of gas for a typical cruiser. (Submitted by Bridgewater Police)

A $72,000 electric police cruiser purchased for Nova Scotia's Bridgewater Police Service in February is officially patrolling the streets.

Though the Tesla ended up costing about $14,000 more than a gas-operated car, town officials say it's going to save them thousands of dollars more per year in reduced maintenance and increased longevity. It's the first electric police vehicle in Atlantic Canada

"The Tesla is expected to save at least $5,000 a year, each year that it's in service," said Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell. 

"And we're expecting it to actually be in service about two years longer than its gas equivalent just because of the reduced maintenance."

Mitchell says they bought the Tesla Model 3 police car for $72,207 and it's been on the road since July.

Charging up much cheaper than gassing up

Chief Scott Feener says his force has already noticed benefits from using its first electric vehicle.

"What it's costing us monthly currently for charging is basically what we've been spending in three days on fuel in a gas car," said Feener.

"It's actually performing better than what we were expecting. I can tell you that with all the emergency equipment electronics in it, it's going a full couple of shifts, basically, before it needs to be recharged."

Feener says the main purpose of the vehicle right now is traffic enforcement and often involves the police car needing to sit idle for hours at a time. Now thanks to the electric car, not only are they not using fuel by idling, but they're also helping the environment.

Bridgewater town council approved the purchase of a Tesla 3 for its police service. They hope to add more electric vehicles to the police fleet. (Town of Bridgewater)

Mitchell says people are warming up to the idea of seeing the Tesla police vehicle in their neighbourhoods, but some people had their doubts.

"There's a lot of education that needs to happen across Canada when it comes to EVs (electric vehicles). People don't really understand, I think, how far these can go," said Mitchell.

"We've had a whole series of comments, including ones that say, well, since electricity and water don't mix, how will the electric car work in the rain?"

Mitchell says while there are few mechanics in the town able to work on Teslas, he doesn't foresee that being a problem anytime soon.

"There's no fluids in the vehicle, there's no oil changes, transmission fluids. Brakes get replaced a lot less frequently, because it has regenerative braking."

He says Tesla can repair any software problems remotely.

To stay in line with the federal government's goal to require 100 per cent of car and passenger truck sales be zero-emission by 2035, Mitchell says they plan to eventually replace all of their gas police cars with electric ones.

"We're piloting the Tesla and that doesn't mean that our next EV purchase will be a Tesla. It's actually more likely that it would be from a locally sourced manufacturer, but we just wanted to test this as we move toward electrifying our fleets."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Feleshia Chandler is a journalist based in Halifax. She loves helping people tell their stories and has interests in issues surrounding LGBTQ+ people as well as Black, Indigenous and people of colour. You can reach her at feleshia.chandler@cbc.ca.

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