A British police force that has embraced the use of electric vehicles says they have operational limits when a charging station is nowhere in sight.
The revelation came from Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson, according to the Daily Mail.
The issue comes into play the most often when officers are in rural areas, he said.
Nelson said that his department, which has electric vehicles making up a greater share of its fleet than any other department, sometimes is faced with situations in which an officer has to change vehicles before reaching the location where an emergency is taking place.
In a recent discussion with a local politician, Nelson walked the line of noting that the vehicles have shortcomings, while not rejecting the “go green” mantra.
“We’ve all got to go towards electric vehicles moving forwards,” he said, adding, “The design options available for electric vehicles for operational uses are not perhaps as advanced as I would like them to be.”
“So, let’s put it like this, I’m cautious about going any further down that road at this stage,” he said.
Nelson noted that the real-world demands an officer puts on a car can tax its capacity.
“I’d like to see more operational choice so that, for instance, if an officer is out in a rural area on a road traffic accident and his lights are on, his radio is on, his heater is on, I wouldn’t want him to run out of power for all of those different facilities, simply because he or she is in an electric car,” he said.
He said reports have come to him of electric vehicles “running out of puff and then having to get another vehicle.”
“I’ve heard lots of problems with officers driving around in electric vehicles having problems trying to find recharging facilities,” he said.
He suggested police work and the green agenda may not always be compatible.
‘So, although the world is going down that road and I fully understand and support climate controls and green areas, it’s definitely an important thing but my first priority is to fight crime. And therefore, I have to take the operational effect into account,” he said.
Concerns over the use of electric vehicles by law enforcement are not new. In 2019, a Fremont, California, police officer reported that he was unable to continue the pursuit in his electric vehicle, according to The Drive.
“I am down to six miles of battery on the Tesla, so I may lose it here in a sec,” he radioed at the time. “If someone else is able, can they maneuver into the number one spot?”
The suspect being chased got away, but police said the pursuit was dropped for safety reasons as the chase topped 110 mph and the suspect was driving dangerously.
In musing about the British experience, James Gilboy of The Drive noted that electric vehicles might be suitable for some facets of police work, but they may not be the answer for chasing the bad guys.
“While more efficient than combustion-engined cars, EVs can’t efficiently store the same amount of energy that a gas tank can, and their performance diminishes as their batteries heat up during use. For these (and possibly other) reasons, only one EV so far (the Mach-E) has attained the ‘pursuit-rated’ status so far, potentially slowing the uptake of EVs by American police departments,” he wrote.
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