Amid a high-speed police pursuit in Northern California, with speeds exceeding 100 mph, an officer noticed a warning in his car -- it was running low on electricity.
The San-Fransisco area police officer was driving a Tesla Model S patrol car, the department’s first and only fully electric-powered vehicle in its fleet when he had to radio dispatch. The Palo Alto, California-based automaker declined to comment on the incident.
This less-than-ideal situation made headlines days after the chase ensued Friday night, exacerbating rumors that the department didn’t follow policies regarding their patrol fleet, according to a department spokesperson.
However, the department's public affairs manager, Geneva Bosques, said the mishap was nothing more than a lesson regarding their Tesla pilot program.
In January of 2018, the department purchased a used 2014 Tesla Model S 85 in an effort to improve its efficiency with a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by "25 percent from its 2005 baseline through economically practical strategies by the year 2020."
Following modifications, the car hit the streets in March 2019. The move comes after the department acquired various other hybrids in what it deems is their "Going Green" timeline.
- 2008-Ford Escape Hybrid and Toyota Prius for admin assignments
- 2010-Nine Ford Escape hybrids for entire CSO fleet
- 2015-Four Ford Fusion hybrids for command staff and admin lieutenants
- 2017-Three Fusion Hybrid plug-ins for command staff
- 2018-Chief, Captains and all administrative lieutenants driving hybrid vehicles; Tesla vehicle purchased
- 2019-Tesla vehicle soon to join the patrol fleet
The chase ensued late Friday night and came to an abrupt stop after the suspect, according to the department, started driving erratically on the freeway, escalating the danger to surrounding vehicles.
Just before the chase ended, Officer Jesse Hartman called in with fears that he wouldn't be able to proceed, citing a low battery.
“I am down to six miles of battery on the Tesla so I may lose it here in a sec,” Hartman was heard saying, according to Broadcastify.
Prior to Hartman's time on duty, the car had already been utilized for an entire shift. When Hartman started nine hours later, around 2 p.m., the car was at 50 percent battery life. Per department policies, before a car is taken out, they are required to have at least a half a tank of gas or a 50 percent battery charge.
It wasn't until the end of Hartman's shift when a roughly 10-minute pursuit ensued, causing Hartman to draw concerns over his battery life. Fortunately, Hartman was surrounded by several officers who were readily available to take over the No. 1 position if needed.
Within the first six months of the pilot program, the car has been in two high-speed pursuits, according to the department, which added that the car has so far exceeded expectations and has more power than its average patrol car.
In a statement to the community, the Fremont Police Department reiterated that at no time did the Tesla battery impact the department’s ability to pursue the suspect or perform their duties and has in fact exceeded the department’s expectations in terms of performance.
“Over the last six months, data on range, performance, equipment, and other elements has been gathered by officers through its use as a patrol vehicle. During this time we have documented two police pursuits, where the vehicle met and exceeded expectations,” the statement read. “Our final results and data will ultimately help us determine if the EV technology meets current patrolling applications and cost effectiveness. We remain dedicated to our continued research into the benefits of using electric vehicles and the effects they have on our environment. We hope to share our initial data and feedback soon.”
In regards to Friday, the department chalks it up to nothing more than "running out of gas" which happens often but rarely makes headlines.