BRIDGEWATER - This town's municipal police service recently put its new and first electric patrol vehicle in service. Officers with the Bridgewater Police Service (BPS) used the $72,000 Tesla Model 3 for its first shift, a night shift, on July 14.
Bridgewater's mayor, David Mitchell, said the car drove about 200 kilometres and used less than 25 per cent of its battery during that period. He said the cost to recharge the battery following its usage was about $3.
Although, in it's early stages, Mitchell said the marked unit, thought to be a first for a police department in Atlantic Canada, is exceeding his expectations.
"The car has more than enough range to get through its business each and every time," the mayor said in an interview.
He hopes the police commission, a BPS civilian governance board, receives regular updates concerning the vehicle's operation and statistics related to energy usage. The car's light bar has solar energy capacity.
The vehicle, which arrived in April, is currently designated for traffic enforcement duty. It was used for other duties until it could be equipped with police-specific gear.
The Tesla was chosen because it had adequate battery life to support the emergency equipment and was the only electric vehicle available for immediate purchase that had the proper law enforcement-related equipment. In February, civic politicians sanctioned pre-budget approval of the unit and authorized a sole source purchase.
Both the mayor and BPS went to social media on July 14 to acknowledge the car's 7 p.m. "ready for duty" status.
Mitchell said the Tesla will save over $5,000 annually in operational costs compared to the gasoline-powered units in BPS's fleet.
The electric vehicle acquisition wasn't met with universal praise. Months ago, a Municipality of Chester civic politician publicly criticized the purchase, calling it "flashy and stupid to grab headlines" in a social media post.
"Over the life of this car, the taxpayer will be paying less for this vehicle than a gas powered police car so not a 'waste of taxpayer money' as some suggest," Mitchell said in a July 14 post.
The federal government set a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks sales to be zero-emission by 2035.
Natural Resources Canada paid EKOS Research Associates $69,000 to conduct public opinion research into Canadians' knowledge, awareness and attitudes related to zero-emission vehicles. The research, dated November 2021, suggested more education and awareness programs because of people's limited experience with the vehicles and lack of understanding of and the safety, vehicle charging, performance, maintenance costs and resale value aspects.
The survey's key findings showed citizens "hold mixed views on electric vehicles and a general lack of knowledge about these vehicles." Results also indicated Canadians believe such vehicles "are beneficial for the environment, but also feel they are expensive and difficult to fuel/charge."