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July 22, 2011 > Police Vehicles Go Green!

Police Vehicles Go Green!

In 2010, the Fremont Police Department was given the opportunity to replace nine of the ten existing Community Service Officer (CSO) vehicles with hybrids. All nine existing vehicles were recycled patrol cars, over ten years old and had high mileage on them. On any given day, several would be out of service for routine maintenance and much needed repairs. Following the City's vehicle replacement schedule of at least 10 years/100K miles for all non-police patrol cars, it was a logical decision to convert these vehicles to hybrids. The new Ford Escape was chosen due to its size, features and spacious interior. These new vehicles began hitting the street a month ago, and are beginning to catch the attention of our community.

Since the late 90's, the City has used alternative fuel vehicles in the fleet. The Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles were the first effort to utilize alternate fuels. The Police Department currently has three 1999 Honda Civic CNG vehicles in our fleet. In addition, the City's street sweepers and a few other heavy equipment vehicles are all CNG vehicles. CNG is economical but is hampered by reduced performance and limited range.

In 2009 seven Toyota Priuses and three Ford Escape hybrids were introduced into the Police fleet of vehicles for administrative personnel. Hybrids work for fleet needs in administrative vehicle assignments where pursuit or load capabilities are not required. We have had good service from the hybrids, both in terms of fuel economy and maintenance costs. With a future of unpredictable fuel costs, hybrids are a better use of resources and fulfill City's commitment to reduce our carbon footprint.

The 2011 Ford Escape hybrid is powered by a 155 HP 2.5L gasoline engine coupled to a 94 HP permanent-magnet electric motor. Fuel economy is rated at 34 City and 31 Highway. It is easy on the environment too, meeting strict Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV II) and Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standards. The Escape has a Nickel-Metal-Hydride battery with regenerative braking. It has a hands-free phone system that will synch with up to ten phones. The cost per unit was $34,862.04, plus up-fitting costs.

After working together with the Department's CSOs to address interior equipment needs as well as a new exterior graphics design, we finalized the concept and had an Escape built. Our vehicle up-fitter provided the most advantageous emergency light configuration. In addition to the light bar, we added lights in the lift gate, wig-wags in the headlight, and programmed an air-horn into the PA system.

The Auto Shop came up with an ingenious plan for a bicycle rack mounted onto the front push bar. The two upright posts are the most noticeable part of the bike rack. This rack is a big improvement over wrestling bikes into the trunks of cars. We have also added spotlights and adjusted the position of the computer and the keyboard to make it more comfortable for the driver to use. The addition of these nine Ford Escape hybrids brings the total number of fuel efficient cars up to 19 and represents about 12% of the Police Department's fleet.

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