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Electric Vehicles add spark to Police frontline fleet

Police begin a six month trial of Electric Vehicles with expansion plans if successful (Photo Supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, June 2, 2023

New Zealand Police is rolling out new electric vehicles (EVs) to be trialled for operational needs over the next six months and if the trial is successful, it will create an opportunity for Police to consider future options EVs to transition into suitable areas of the fleet.

The BMW i4 has been selected for the initial trial, successfully meeting most performance requirements for an operational vehicle while fulfilling carbon reduction targets and fitting within existing project funding.

Road Policing has been identified as a suitable trial for operational use and the trial is initially limited to five vehicles. This trial is part of a wider fleet electrification project, introducing 45 electric vehicles into the New Zealand Police Fleet and the associated charging infrastructure. The expectation is this will reduce carbon emissions by around 176.1 tonnes annually.

Moving with the times

New Zealand Police remain conscious that new EV vehicle technology is evolving rapidly and continuously being released onto the market.

Many Police forces across Europe (specifically, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy) have been using small numbers of electric vehicles in their operational fleet. There are also small trials happening in various Australian States. New Zealand now joins the list of countries that are incorporating EVs as a trial to the fleet.

Part of global policing innovation

This trial aligns New Zealand with global Policing innovations and modernises and transforms our fleet while seeking to meet our carbon reduction targets. Work is also underway to identify practical ways to reduce fleet carbon emissions by analysing what the fleet comprises, how we use our vehicles and alternative means of travel.

In unveiling the trial vehicle in Auckland today, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said the vehicle represented an important commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

“Police vehicles are fundamental to our ability to serve the public and provide safer communities across New Zealand. We are proud to take these new steps seeking to reduce transport-related emissions while keeping New Zealanders safe.”

This project is supported with $1.7 million in co-funding from the State Sector Decarbonisation Fund, administered by EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority).

Performance advantages

Making the transition to EVs will provide added advantages to the Police as An EV generates much more torque than an internal combustion vehicle which enables impressive acceleration manoeuvres and driving responsiveness. The additional weight and position of the electric battery mean a low centre of gravity and excellent weight balance.

The vehicle will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds. Battery range for the EVs is up to 590km but is dependent on how the vehicle is driven and its load, something which Police will be evaluating as part of the trial.

For the trial, drivers have undertaken specific EV driver training as it is the heaviest and highest-performance car within the fleet.

The chargers installed at Police stations will charge the vehicle in around 2 hours. If charged at a hyper-charger, this could be completed in as little as 30 minutes.

A range of Electric Vehicles were reviewed and tested and the BMW i4 met more of the requirements for an operational vehicle with the NZ Police. The selected vehicle has one of the highest kilometre ranges of any EV currently available in New Zealand. The operational Police environment places huge demands on operation vehicles in our fleet.

What the trial entails

Over the next six months, a fully operational EV is being trialled to test the vehicle’s full potential and looks at how EVs can be successfully introduced into our wider fleet.

The operational trial will start with Road Policing as these vehicles are generally used by single drivers, sticking to mostly highway travel and consistent routes that should not be affected by range limitations.

Starting as a small trial of five vehicles, it will slowly expand once there is increased confidence around the EV’s suitability as an operational vehicle.

Locations for the trial

The first vehicle will be trialled in the Waikato and then deployed to Counties Manukau, Central Districts, Christchurch, and Dunedin. The spread of geographical locations will allow the Police to test a range of variables (such as topography, weather, driving conditions etc).

The Government implemented an ‘electric vehicles first’ policy for all government fleets to accelerate the transition to low-emissions vehicles. If the trial is successful, it will provide a pathway forward for further adoption of future EV trials within the fleet in various roles.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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