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Volkswagon Vanagon Camper

During my police days, I was the victim of a bold, new experiment.  The patrol vehicle I was assigned was converted to run on natural gas.  The experiment was a disaster.  The tank eliminated about 70% of the vehicle’s trunk space, upset the balance of the vehicle, and the performance was absolutely pathetic.  I got into a pursuit with a SUV with two flat tires, and couldn’t keep up with it.  We did acceleration tests, and the vehicle was substantially slower than a Volkswagon Vanagon camper, one of the slowest vehicles of its time.  Worst of all, when it was cold—and this was in South Dakota—it took as much as 45 minutes to partially fill the tank. It wouldn’t fill entirely under those conditions, and I often had to refill at least twice: once about 2/3 into a shift, and at the end of the shift.  It took about a year of suffering with that beast for the administration to finally get wise, but surprisingly,  that mistake wasn’t repeated.

As I understand it, at least the slow filling issue with LNG vehicles has since been resolved, but acceleration, engine life, etc. issues remain, and LNG vehicles, for anything other than commercial and government use, remain uncommon.

So why bring up ancient news like that?  The Fremont, CA police have discovered similar problems, but this time, with an electric patrol vehicle, as Fox News reports:

Fast–until the juice runs out…

A Tesla electric patrol car with the Fremont, Calif., Police was forced to back off from a pursuit after the vehicle’s battery ran low in the middle of the chase.

‘Just slowed down to six miles of battery on the Tesla, so I may lose it here in a sec,’ the officer in the pursuit said, according to police radio transmissions obtained by KPIX 5. ‘If someone else is able, can they maneuver into the No. 1 spot?’

Other officers then took over the pursuit. The chase was called off after it was deemed unsafe because of the reckless driving of the suspect. The suspect’s vehicle was later found abandoned in San Jose.

That would be “other officers” with gas-powered patrol vehicles.  But why would a law enforcement agency use EVs anyway?  Oh right.  Greenie political correctness:

The department is in the midst of a pilot program using 2014 Tesla model S 85 vehicles as part of Fremont’s push to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from its 2005 baseline by 2020.

‘The Tesla wasn’t fully charged at the beginning of the shift,’ a Fremont police spokesperson told KPIX 5. ‘This, unfortunately, happens from time to time, even in our vehicles that run on gas, if they aren’t refueled at the end of a shift.

What the “spokesperson” didn’t say, and considering the politics involved, dare not say, is EVs are, like LNG powered vehicles, spectacularly unsuited to law enforcement.  What the spokesperson is also not saying is refilling a gas powered vehicle takes only a few minutes.  EVs take hours. The issue is not just recharging time.

Police vehicles use enormous amounts of electric energy to power not only their emergency lights, but radios, computers, flashlight rechargers, and a variety of other electronic devices.  Such vehicles are normally equipped with heavy-duty alternators and other electrical components, yet often have problems.  In warmer climates, patrol vehicles have to run air conditioning continually to keep bullet resistant vest wearing officers functional.  Wearing a vest in hot conditions is very much like walking around wearing a plastic garbage bag.  In cold conditions, the heater must be constantly on.  Add headlights—many LE vehicles have constant on headlights—windshield wipers, etc., and the electric drain is enormous.

California is fortunate in having a mild climate.  In cold climates, EVs are impractical because cold dramatically saps battery power and increases recharging times.  The colder, the more drastic the effect.

I suspect what the spokespeople would never be allowed to report is patrol vehicles probably have to be recharged at least twice during a shift: when they run low on juice during the shift, and at the end of the shift so the following shift have vehicles they can use.  This is so because police driving is not sedate, low speed trolling at constant, predictable speeds, but continual bursts of acceleration.  Electric motors do accelerate very rapidly, but at high energy cost.  I can only imagine that poor officer accelerating after the criminal while watching his “miles remaining” readout drop like a rock.

Why is recharging a problem?  Even with super duper chargers, a patrol vehicle will be out of service for two hours or more for a complete charge.  Complete charges are absolutely necessary, because patrol vehicles can’t be driven for minimum battery drain.  The vehicle in question was almost certainly only partially charged at the beginning of the shift because the previous shift couldn’t afford the time necessary to fully charge it.  In addition, the batteries of any EV have limited lives.  The more frequently they’re charged, the faster they wear out, and replacement is very, very expensive.

Police agencies are always understaffed.  They can’t afford to have patrol officers sitting around, waiting for batteries to charge.  Law enforcement agencies also can’t afford extra police vehicles to compensate for charging out of service vehicles.  They can normally afford only the minimum number necessary to staff their shifts, with perhaps one or two extras.

At least they might be entertaining…

EVs might be workable for detectives, crime scene technicians or administrative staff, but where patrol work is concerned, they’re not ready for prime time, and never may be.  However, in California, realty is seldom allowed to intrude on political virtue signaling.  If the Fremont PD officers that actually do the work were allowed to speak, they’d confirm they need reality.  EVs don’t qualify.

Pre-Posting Update:  Inc.com reports that the discretionary power outages in California are exposing yet another major flaw of EVs:

Second, our electrical grid is far more fragile than most of us truly understand. The fact that you can plug in a toaster and make breakfast in the morning is almost luck. It doesn’t take much to cause that luck to run out–a storm, a power surge, or a branch falling on a power line. Or, apparently, a utility with such outdated equipment that the only way it can be sure it won’t start a wildfire that could burn down most of California is to just shut everything off for a few days.

But just because it’s a little windy in the Bay Area, people still need to go to work, still need to make lunches before sending their kids off to school, and still need to do all of the other things they would normally do. No one is evacuating. Which, I guess is a good thing since they’d only get a few hundred miles before their Teslas all run out of juice.

This is true, of course, for all EVs.  Californians are also discovering that the wonder of solar power isn’t quite as wondrous as they thought.  Roof mounted solar panels on homes do not supply power directly to those homes, but to the electric grid, so when the power is shut down, solar powered homes have no juice.  Virtually none have battery backups, which are brutally expensive.  Some have suggested homeowners can use their EV battery packs to power a home, but not only are EV batteries incompatible to the task, if they were, home usage would drain an EVs battery pack even more quickly than driving would, and if there’s no electricity to power the house, there’s no electricity to recharge an EV to power the house.

California and EVs: the future of our nation.