St. Helena Police Department EV Fleet Includes Tesla Model 3

The St. Helena Police Department is pioneering an eco-friendly initiative in Napa County by integrating electric and hybrid vehicles into its fleet, marking a significant step towards reducing its carbon footprint. This move positions the department as the first law enforcement agency in the county to shift away from traditional internal combustion engines.

The updated fleet comprises a Tesla Model 3 designated for the police chief, two Ford Mustang Mach-E patrol vehicles, and a Ford Maverick Hybrid pickup. These vehicles are currently being equipped with necessary law enforcement accessories, including lights, and are expected to be operational by early to mid-March, reports the St. Helena Star.

City Councilmember Anna Chouteau, a proponent of St. Helena’s green initiatives, emphasized the city’s commitment to environmental responsibility. “Combating climate change is a priority for St. Helena,” Chouteau stated. “We have great people and leaders in our city who understand the risks of not acting and making changes fast enough.”

The department is keen on assessing the performance of the electric patrol cars, which boast a range of 250 miles per charge. However, this estimate does not account for the additional power used by onboard computers, radios, and air conditioning. “We think that 250-mile range will cover a whole 12-hour shift, and then we’ll have to charge the car for four or five hours,” explained Lt. Justin Tharp.

Highlighting the benefits of electric vehicles, Tharp noted, “Patrol vehicles typically spend a lot of time idling, and the new electric cars will be able to do that without burning fuel and emitting greenhouse gases.” The Tesla and Mustangs will utilize charging stations located at the new City Hall/police department.

St. Helena’s initiative reflects a growing trend among police departments, including Oakdale, Folsom, Fremont, and Cotati, to adopt electric vehicles. However, the transition also underscores the need for more charging infrastructure. “The only chargers on public property in St. Helena are at City Hall and the city parking lot on Oak Avenue,” Chouteau mentioned, highlighting the challenge of securing grants for electric vehicles due to the scarcity of charging options.

The department’s move is in line with new California regulations pushing for a transition to zero-emission vehicles. While police and emergency vehicles are exempt, St. Helena Police is proactively opting for electrics and hybrids. The cost savings are notable, with the electric and hybrid vehicles being cheaper upfront than traditional police interceptors and expected to have lower operating costs due to reduced maintenance needs.

Yesterday, Tesla touted how its vehicles can save police departments and ultimately taxpayers money. Less gas costs and maintenance over the long term, versus regular ICE cars.