Why The LAPD Is Using Tesla Model S Pursuit Cars

(Image: LAPD)
(Image: LAPD)

The Los Angeles Police Department is ostensibly evaluating two $100,000 Tesla Model S P85Ds as cop cars right now. The police know it’s an impractical vehicle for the application, but they’re not about to turn down free futuristic luxury cars.


Here’s LAPD Police Administrator Vartan Yegiyan, talking to CNBC:

Tesla is working with the agency “to assess the vehicle’s performance in our environment and to learn what are the drawbacks and positives of this type of vehicle in our fleet operation. Not only on the regular transportation side, but also the future in the high-pursuit-rated vehicle arena.”

The department has a similar deal with a BMW i3, but that’s not going to be as quick. Or as fun.

I would hazard to guess that Tesla is getting as much, if not more useful data out of this experiment than the police are. But I can’t blame the LAPD for wanting to try putting a badge on these super fast cars that are So Hot Right Now, even if they’re not replacing trusty old Crown Vics and fancy new Explorers anytime soon.

As Yegiyan continued on CNBC:

“Is it practical now? No. “[But over] the next three to five years ... not only will the industry push toward electrification, but prices will drop on vehicles. More models will be coming out, and the electricity and electrical grid will become more robust, and more charging stations will be available. While that’s occurring we’ll be in the space learning and contributing to the process.”


So everybody gets a little publicity and the opportunity to take notes. Now it’s up to the cops to learn more than “Yep, it’s real fast and expensive to fix when we ram it into things”, since I have no doubt Tesla will be diligently squeezing every ounce of information they can about their car’s tour of duty on the force.

The LAPD reportedly runs a small fleet of electric scooters and motorcycles in earnest. From my anecdotal observations around town, I can tell you most Los Angeles law enforcers drive Ford Explorer SUVs and Crown Victoria sedans. Toyota Priuses and Honda Civics do parking enforcement.


I’ve reached out to Tesla to see if I can find out more about their relationship with the LAPD and will update if we hear back.

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles


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LAPD charged with battery.