Unplugged Performance has a pretty cool history. For a decade, this Californian firm has been building some of the fastest Teslas on the face of the planet, from Pikes Peak-challenging hillclimb cars to more traditional time attack scorchers. However, now the firm is looking to diversify in a big way — by creating a division called UPfit and building Tesla Model Y police cars.
Police cars are pretty much an ideal use case for electric vehicles. This sounds a bit strange, but it all comes down to idle hours. From revenue–I’m sorry, speed enforcement to street patrols, much of a police car’s life involves sitting stationary, blasting the heat or air conditioning. Not only are combustion-powered cars incredibly inefficient in this use case, but idle hours are hard on engines. During the era of the Crown Victoria, Ford claimed that one idle hour was equivalent to around 31 miles of driving, and that doesn’t even paint the whole picture when it comes to engine wear and cooling. How much do you trust your radiator fans? In contrast, an EV simply pulls power from its high-voltage pack using a step-down converter to run heating, air conditioning, and vehicle electronics when not moving, meaning the wear on the vehicle isn’t significant.
Oh, and that’s before we even get into fuel economy. At idle, a combustion engine is getting zero miles per gallon. In contrast, the drain put on an electric vehicle by running the climate control pales in comparison to the energy needed to drive at highway speeds, so score one for EVs. Plus, EVs are great at running the always-on gear that’s become a routine part of policing.
So why Tesla Model Ys? Well, for a start, they’re available. Plenty of examples are already on the ground, ready to be bought by consumers and fleets alike. Second, the Model Y has sheer volume and time on its side. While many automakers have taken a ride on the rising electric vehicle tide, Tesla has been making tons of Model Ys for years, giving plenty of reliability data to pull from. For critical equipment, known quantities are often better than unknown quantities. Finally, Teslas are what Unplugged Performance specializes in. If you’re already good at something, why change too much?
The UPfit cop-spec Model Y is expensive at $91,990 fully-upfitted. However, the manufacturer still claims $7,000 in savings over buying an upfitted Ford Police Interceptor Utility, and that’s before you even get into lifetime cost savings. Oh, and everything from K-9-specific accommodations to NIJ III+ armoring is on the menu. It’s an argument good enough for the city of South Pasadena, which has just ordered 20 of the juiced-up cop cars.
(Photo credits: UPfit)
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