Its time has come, insists Tony Abdalla, saying the South Pasadena Police Department is on the doorstep of investing in a fleet of battery-powered patrol vehicles.
Local law enforcement officials are ready to say goodbye to the internal combustion engine for a number reasons, stressed Abdalla, a SPPD sergeant, recognizing that electric vehicles (EV) in the long run are significantly more economical and environmentally-friendly over their gas-fueled counterparts.
Police departments across the country are adding a full line-up of EV’s, and South Pasadena city officials are looking to join the movement, appreciating their quietness, not having to spend high sums for gas and ease of maintenance.
“We’re to the point where we believe the technology in the vehicles are mature enough to where they could suit frontline police use,” said Abdalla, who was joined by fellow officer, Lieutenant Shannon Robledo, South Pasadena Mayor Michael Cacciotti, and members of the technical staff from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), all taking a tour of a startup electric carmaker in Vernon last week.
“Our department looks to transition to all-electric vehicles, so we’re visiting a local manufacturer to see which options it has available and solutions it can solve for us,” explained Abdalla. “We’re exploring to see what’s available in the market and how manufacturers might be able to support us.”
The group was introduced to INDI EV, a company established in 2017 and now looking to roll out its sleek INDI ONE model, powered by a 95-kWh battery with a range of about 300 miles on a single charge, to the mass market in the near future. Among the customers INDI EV hopes to lock down is the SPPD, showing how it could equip it with specialized police features.
During the visit, top management outlined key components found in the INDI One, which showcases a high-end Vehicle Integrated Computer (VIC) designed, according to a company spokesperson, to enrich the driving and digital life experience, noting the vehicle allows drivers to create content and engage with audiences, assist with everyday life tasks, while offering a range of customizable hardware and software characteristics.
Breaking it down simply, Andre Hudson, head of design, said VIC is an integrated supercomputer powering three screens along the dashboard, a series of cameras and 5G connectivity to create a workstation on wheels, geared to post to social media, play video games, capture photos, edit content and more.
“It’s equipped to learn your habits and enhance your life,” said Hudson.
In addition, the vehicle’s futuristic design offers a unique-looking steering wheel, a panoramic roof and large trunk space. Far beyond typical modern amenities like speed, battery level, climate control, music and entertainment selections, the INDI ONE sets itself apart with cameras focused on backseat passengers. The pictures are then streamed to upfront displays, providing parents with a live view of the rear seats.
“We at INDI EV saw a disconnect in the software experience when consumers transition from using their computers and phones to getting into their cars,” said Hudson. “Enabled by an electric vehicle platform, we saw an opportunity to bridge this gap and elevate what your vehicle can enable you to do with INDI ONE. We see cars as more than just a mode of transportation, but as a device that empowers the ‘you do you’ mentality. Through smart design, artificial intelligence, and unparalleled customization features, we’re expanding the horizons of how your vehicle can support your life.”
Through its supercomputer, Hudson said VIC is capable of playing the latest-generation of games. It’s advanced software allows those inside the vehicle to capture content while on trips with the many interior and exterior cameras, live stream videos, hold Zoom meetings and even shoot, edit and upload content to the Cloud. The multimedia offerings provide riders with a place to work, post, and engage in a game all while enjoying the ride. In a comfortable setting, those on board can enjoy the car’s multiple screens, listen to their favorite tunes, get a quick check of the weather, and look into their Facebook accounts. Moderately priced, the INDI ONE costs approximately $45,000.
A host of car manufactures, including Ford, Tesla, and Chevrolet, continues to explore the electric police vehicle market and INDI EV looks to join them.
The City of South Pasadena is ready to give electric police vehicles (EV’s) a serious look, insists Abdalla. “EV’s generally have better performance matrix and they cost significantly less to maintain and to fuel,” he said. “So, we kind of look at it, with the right fit, the right manufacturer that it would be a significant benefit when it comes to those matrix’s. On top of that, you get the climate benefits.”
He added, “It’s impressive to see the amount of design and engineering” that goes into manufacturing of electric vehicles today, noting, “It looks like they (INDI EV) are well on their way to getting a product out there.”
Robledo said as the South Pasadena Police Department moves toward EVs in all its cars, “It must make sense. We obviously want to help out the environment but we also must be realistic in being good stewards of the public’s money. We have to look at the reality and the functions of the car. Is it going to work for police work? Is it going to work for the city? We appreciate that (SPPD Police) Chief (Brian) Solinsky is letting us look into a fleet of electric cars. It’s all about safety. It’s all about financial sense. It’s all about what works for the city. It’s all about the environment. We have to marry all those things and make the best decision for our citizens and officers.”
Making efforts to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, South Pasadena has instituted a Climate Action Plan, or a strategy for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with statewide targets. “So by transitioning to an all-electric fleet, we can get well on the way to meeting those benchmarks,” said Abdalla.
Cacciotti, who serves as a board member for the South Coast Air Quality Management District along with his local mayoral role, saw the INDI ONE debuted last November at the Los Angeles Car Show. He reached out to OMNI EV management and setup the meeting in Vernon as he continues to push the city to go all in when it comes to electric vehicles.
“Our police department wants to see if it’s feasible, practical to purchase some electric police vehicles, so they are doing their due diligence in looking at a number of manufacturers,” said the mayor. “INDI EV is interested in loaning some of their vehicles to us and test the performance. Maybe then we’ll be in a position to purchase or lease. Hopefully, we’ll be coming to council someday soon about transitioning our fleet of patrol cars from gas to electric. We want to make sure we do it right. We’re looking at all aspects of this new technology. Whoever has the best product for our police, for our community, we’re looking forward to working with them.”
The mayor said the City could transition to battery-powered police cars in stages, either by purchasing or leasing. He also looks to work with Southern California Edison, which is laying out a Charge Ready Program, whereby assisting business and property owners by installing the infrastructure and equipment necessary to support EV charging stations for commercial, multi-family and public sector properties.
“Designed for light-duty passenger vehicles, the program helps provide financial incentives, infrastructure to facilitate the installation and maintenance of EV charging stations,” said Cacciotti. “We want to work with Edison to help pay for the infrastructure through a grant. They’re starting to install the infrastructure for individual car owners and businesses and that will encourage people to buy electric cars. It’s a win-win.”
INDI EV officials highlighted special features for a fully-integrated, all-enabled police car as Hudson said the car manufacturer is eager to work with the South Pasadena Police Department to identify which ones provide the most value to the agency.
“It’s a beautiful car,” Robledo continued. “We definitely have to do research in how our department can utilize it the best. We’re just doing our due diligence. I’m impressed with the vehicle, however, there are a lot of components involved before we make any kind of commitment. There are major car manufacturers that make police cars and our officers are used to certain things, movement and placement. So, we don’t want something that will distract our officers from doing their job.”
Abdalla was equally impressed, adding: “Like I said, we believe the technology is there to support police-line use if we get the fit with the right manufacturer.”
Adoption of a fleet of clean, green EV police cruisers falls in line with South Pasadena’s efforts to make a difference when it comes to cutting gas emissions. In 2015, the town became the first American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA) Green Zone in the nation, ensuring that grounds maintenance on municipal properties – mowing, hedging, edging, trimming, sawing and blowing – are serviced exclusively with low-noise zero emission battery-electric machinery and manual hand tools.
“We continue to make efforts to solve the problem of pollution in our city, in our region,” said Cacciotti. “The INDI ONE is a very impressive vehicle. We’ve seen a lot of startups over the years, some fail, but this one seems a little more advanced. Its owner is an entrepreneur from the gaming industry and has a great looking car with a lot of nice features. We’re definitely going to look at it for our police fleet.”
In an article in the South Pasadenan on February 24, Bill Glazer spreads the news that the South Pasadena Police Dept is considering buying EVs for their next fleet of police cruisers. EVs have many features officer would appreciate. The electric drive train produces torque beyond anything found in a stock ICE vehicle, imparting blinding fast acceleration and high speed. The low center of gravity from the battery means better stability and handling. Initial studies also suggest the force of impacts in collision is distributed differently, reducing injuries. And how about stealth for police work? Apart from the wind as it moves, an EV is ultra quiet on the prowl. While EVs have a larger upfront price, on-going maintenance and fuel costs are a fraction ICE vehicles. Over its life an EV is more economical. Police cars burn most of their fuel while idling at a scene, keeping the small lead-acid battery charged to run the AC and electronics. Relying on grid-charged lithium battery costs less and is cleaner, the more so as the grid becomes cleaner. It should come as no surprise that the police Department of Fremont California is already stocking its fleet with EVs. This is a great step forward, So Pas and Fremont are leading the way for other police departments.
How much is this new fleet of EV police cars going to cost us taxpayers?
Gearbox I can update you on what South Pasadena Police Department is doing with their fleet. First the Electric vehicle of choice is Tesla. They are going to use Tesla Model Y for patrol and Tesla Mode 3 for Detective and Administrative use. On December 6, 2021 the Natural Resources and Environmental Commission unanimously approved for South Pasadena Police Department to use Tesla. Also, on December 13, 2021, Public Safety Commission unanimously approved for South Pasadena Police Department to use Tesla. After both commissions approved this now this is heading to the South Pasadena City Council. Will see what happens then. Base of what I read South Pasadena Police Department is going to shrink the police vehicle fleet from 23 to 20 vehicles and also get the tesla model Y and 3 on a vehicle lease which they consider a cheaper option than purchasing them straight up. Plus on what I heard South Pasadena Police Department is going to save a lot of money in using Electric police vehicles compare to using gas powered vehicles. Also, if you have not been following there police vehicle fleet is getting old and becoming to expensive to maintain. So it might be expense at first but they will be saving a lot of money down the road especially in gas and maintenance cost.