Electric police cars ‘running out of puff’ on way to emergencies

·3 min read
Electric police car - Andrius Kaziliunas/Shutterstock
Electric police car - Andrius Kaziliunas/Shutterstock

Electric police cars are running out of charge when responding to emergencies because the blue lights and sirens drain the batteries, it has been suggested.

Officers using environmentally friendly vehicles in rural areas are also struggling to locate charging points, raising questions about their effectiveness.

The vast majority of constabularies in England and Wales now include electric vehicles in their fleet, with the Metropolitan Police pledging to be 100 per cent electric by 2030.

Despite being one of the country's smallest forces, Gloucestershire Constabulary has the second biggest number of electric vehicles in the country.

With almost 90 battery powered police cars on the county’s roads, electric vehicles make up a fifth of the force’s entire fleet.

Issues with cars

But the local Police and Crime Commissioner, Chris Nelson, has acknowledged there are issues with the cars responding to some emergencies.

He said vehicles using their lights, radio and heater were in danger of "running out of puff".

Responding to questions from County Councillor Steve Robinson, Mr Nelson said he backed the use of electric police vehicles but acknowledged they were not without their problems.

He said: "We've all got to go towards electric vehicles. We have the largest fleet by percentage size – that has brought its problems.

"The design options available for electric vehicles for operational uses are not perhaps as advanced as I would like them to be.

"So, let's put it like this, I'm cautious about going any further down that road at this stage."

He added: "I'd like to see more operational choice so that, for instance, if an officer is out in a rural area on a road traffic accident and his lights are one, his radio is on, his heater is on, I wouldn't want him to run out of power for all of those different facilities simply because he or she is in an electric car.

"I've heard lots of problems with officers driving around in electric vehicles having problems trying to find recharging facilities.

"Running out of puff and then having to get another vehicle.

"So, although the world is going down that road and I fully understand and support climate controls and green areas, it's definitely an important thing but my first priority is to fight crime.

"And therefore, I have to take the operational effect into account."

Looking for alternatives

The Government has pledged to ban the production of all new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030, leaving police forces urgently looking for alternatives.

But the increasing amount of technology carried in them – such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition computers and sophisticated radio equipment – affects battery range.

According to a recent Freedom of Information request 10 police forces are yet to purchase any electric vehicles.

Some have been carrying out trials with Tesla cars, which cost more than £60,000 each but are capable of reaching a top speed of 160mph and can travel for up to 200 miles without the need to recharge.