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LAPD Feels The Need For Speed, But The Tesla Model S Might Just Be Too Pricey

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The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has been testing out a pair of Tesla Model S P85D for almost a year now. But apparently, it's too soon to make the electric cars a permanent part of the law enforcement motor pool according to police officials.

The LAPD has been working with Tesla to determine how well the Model S performs under the pressures of police work in the second largest city in the United States.

"Tesla definitely stepped up," LAPD Police Administrator Vartan Yegiyan told CNBC. "[LAPD wants] 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."

Among the reasons the LAPD isn't ready to invest in electric vehicles yet is the cost of the cars. The police staple Ford Explorers start out at $30,000 and top out about $45,000 when kitted with law enforcement equipment, while the Model S P85D has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $100,000.

"Is it practical now? No," Yegiyan said. "[However,] the next three to five years ... not only will the industry push toward electrification, but prices will drop on vehicles."

Moreover, Tesla itself is driving those drops in prices Yegiyan spoke about. The automaker anticipates that it will deliver the first of its economy-priced Model 3 cars by the end of next year.

The Model 3, which will start at $35,000, we offer a range of 215 miles per charge and an acceleration of zero to 60 mph in under 6 seconds. Like the Model S, the Model 3 will include Tesla's Autopilot feature and that could be a big help for multitasking policing officers someday in the not so distant future.

Another reason the department isn't ready is the state of vehicle charging infrastructure. There just aren't enough charging stations around Los Angeles to make the LAPD comfortable enough in making the switch from gas to electric.

Yegiyan acknowledged that electric vehicle industry, from the grid to the cars, will "become more robust" soon. In the meantime, the LAPD will continue to learn about the industry and will contribute where it can.

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