The police department in the Montreal-area city of Repentigny has introduced Quebec’s first all-electric police car in a six-month pilot project.
The car itself is a repurposed Ford Mustang Mach-E with a 300 km battery range and all the same features as a regular police vehicle. The project will be developed by Cyberkar, which specializes in technological solutions for emergency vehicles. It will kick off in April and be completed sometime in the fall.
If the Repentigny police force (SPVR) likes what it sees, it could adopt EVs for ongoing patrol operations, and push the concept to other Quebec police forces.
A new graphic identity with high-contrast colours, inspired by European ‘Battenburg markings’ is also being considered as part of the project. That is still under consideration by a committee which will include police input, and is scheduled to be determined in March.
The pilot project
The idea for EV police vehicles came up when the city and the SPVR were discussing renewal options for the fleet in 2018.
“Given the significant investment that this represents, as well as the costs of the current vehicles in terms of maintenance, repairs and gasoline, and given the city’s vision to support innovative projects, we took the opportunity to think about an electric vehicle,” said Stéphanie Fortier, the organizational performance consultant with the city.
While green conversions and GHG reduction initiatives have been growing in popularity across numerous industries and sectors, it has not yet spread into this aspect of policing, which is what makes Repentigny’s pilot project unique.
“I visit all the police departments across North America in terms of understanding what they do,” said Rob St-Germain, the director of sales and customer experience at Cyberkar. “One of the things that (is) rarely popular is the reduction of carbon emissions in city fleets as well as in the police department.”
Other vehicles were considered for EV conversion, but ultimately the Ford made the most sense, thanks largely to ergonomics considerations for police officers. The design takes into account, among other features, a bench shape to reduce pressure points, accessibility to the different equipment, and the console being lowered to the floor to allow for the necessary clearances.
Design and potential
In the same fashion, Jonathan Boivin, the business development manager at Cyberkar and one of its co-founders, said adapting all of the required equipment of a patrol car to an EV, such as the cage and emergency lights, was “the main challenge,” because they also draw more extra energy from the car.
In Cyberkar’s renovated Mach-E, Boivin also notes officers can receive emergency calls to their central panel and digitize the police radar from the same screen. With police shifts running anywhere between six and 12 hours, he had to consider in the conversion as well.
“We brought in an ergonomist within the project so they can help us to understand the needs of the officer and to guide us in the design to have the best aerodynamics within the vehicle,” said Boivin. “When you convert it for a specific task, it’s a mobile office.”
Charging will be conducted mainly at a BRCC 50 KW station. According to ChargeHub, the city has 35 public charging station ports within 15 km, and 94 per cent of the ports are Level 2 charging ports, while 11 per cent of the ports offer free charges.
The city is open to adding more police EVs in the future depending on the outcome of the pilot program, but will initially utilize one or two to measure the impact of reduced costs, GHG emissions and the impact on policing activities.
Repentigny isn’t the only city interested. Talks have been ongoing over the last six months with the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which has ordered 184 of the same Ford EVs for its police forces. St-Germain said other talks are under way, but declined to reveal further details.
Cyberkar won’t necessarily stop at just EV police cars. Boivin noted the “need is the same” for EMS and fire vehicles or even the fleets for Hydro Quebec or the Société de transport de Montréal, the city’s public transportation agency.
Cyberkar, headquartered in Terrebonne, Quebec, was founded in 2014. Boivin has a master’s in project management from the University of Sherbrooke, but all four of the company founders are former police officers or have family members who have been involved in policing.
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