Around the world, electric cars are slowly becoming more mainstream – but they likely won’t be wearing red and blue lights in Australian police service in the near future, the nation’s constabularies say.
Australian police forces have a very limited or non-existent presence of electric cars within their fleets, recent data has shown, with many units pointing to difficulties associated with range and a lack of charging infrastructure.
In an investigation conducted by Chasing Cars, data was collected from the state, territory and federal police forces in Australia to see if electric vehicles were breaking into the emergency service ranks as the battery-driven technology slowly closes the gap with petrol and diesel cars.
The results were diverse, with only Victoria Police confirming that an EV is on the force as an active duty police vehicle. That car, a fully-electric Tesla Model X SUV, was acquired as part of a feasibility study that kicked off in 2019.
“This feasibility study remains ongoing and gives Victoria Police an insight into what functionality police vehicles require from electric vehicles,” a spokesperson for the department told Chasing Cars.
While the exact requirements of police cars are not normally disclosed to the public, Sergeant Raymond Murray from the Queensland Police Service said while they were always looking to introduce new technology, charging and range issues associated with EVs made it difficult at the current time.
“The nature of police work is you never know when an emergency is going to happen and you need to be ready to go,” he told Chasing Cars.
“Queensland is just huge and we need to be able to stop and get fuel wherever we need to.”
|Any police EVs?
|Type of duties
|New South Wales
|1x Hyundai Kona Electric
|1x Tesla Model X
|Toyota Hybrids only (>200)
|2x Hyundai Kona Electric, 3x Hyundai Ioniq Electric
|3x Hyundai Ioniq Electric
|3x Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, 57 Toyota Hybrids
|Federal Police (inc. ACT and NT)
Gary Clayton, the fleet management supervisor at Tasmania Police, said they, too, had been cautious to adopt fully-electric vehicles for the same reason.
“We haven’t looked at pure electric vehicles at this stage mainly due to the lack of charging stations and size of the current vehicle selection,” Mr Clayton said.
The fleet manager said hybrid vehicles remained the preferred choice due to not having to physically plug them in, which would be a problem in remote areas.
“No doubt more charging stations will be installed in future and admin vehicles will be the first to go pure electric only,” My Clayton said.
Over in South Australia, police said they had five EVs on their fleet in the form of two Hyundai Kona Electric and three Hyundai Ioniq models, that were used alongside a wide range of Toyota Camry and Toyota RAV4 hybrids for administration services.
However, unlike the Victoria Police Tesla, which is used alongside BMW 530d highway patrol cars within that force, the South Australian electric police vehicles are not considered part of the active-duty fleet.
In Western Australia, there are three Hyundai Ioniq Electric Elite pure-EVs on fleet, along with 13 Toyota Camry hybrids, comprising 0.01% of the state’s police force.
The Australian Federal Police is currently testing a handful of hybrid and EV cars in their nation fleet and more locally in the ACT and Northern Territory.
While NSW Police do not have any hybrid of electric vehicles as part of their general administration or core police fleet, it has recently introduced a Hyundai Kona Electric that will operate out of its Penrith station for the next 12 months.
The Kona Electric will serve as a community engagement vehicle by the Crime Prevention Unit and primarily help to draw attention as a promotional vehicle, it has previously done with a Honda Civic Type R and even a McLaren 650S.
In a statement, a spokesperson from NSW Police Force said it would “continue to monitor the new vehicle landscape assessing opportunities to leverage the technological and environmental benefits of electric and hybrid vehicles without compromising operational effectiveness of the fleet.”
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