BMW announced today that it has won a contract with the Los Angeles Police Department to supply 100 of its compact i3 electric cars. The initiative is a part of LA's "Sustainable City pLAn," which includes a commitment to make half of its light-duty vehicle purchases fully electric by 2017. The i3s will be used in a "non-emergency" capacity — in other words, you won't likely see them engaged in high-speed police chases, but rather for basic department transportation needs and community outreach.
LAPD's move comes after a trial period where it pitted an i3 against a Tesla Model S P85D. The P85D is larger and much quicker, but overall cost may have factored into the decision — i3s start at just over $42,000, while the P90D (the P85D has since been discontinued) has a base price over $100,000. BMW cites the i3's efficiency, reliability, connected car capabilities (for the department's fleet management) and its network of service centers as reasons for securing the winning bid, but it's also possible that BMW gave the department a nice fleet discount. BMW says that it will be designing a custom web tool for officers that allows the i3s to be tracked and managed centrally.
Of course, when you deploy a fleet of EVs, you need a way to charge them. LAPD is working with EV charger management company Greenlots to make that happen, installing 100 Level 2 chargers and four DC Fast Charge stations, which can charge a depleted i3 to 80 percent in half an hour or less.
The i3s start hitting the (clogged) highways of LA "this spring," so basically any day now.