Less than a month after the Los Angeles Police Department said it wasn’t ready to add more electric cars to its fleet, the force had a change of heart, announcing an order of 100 BMW i3s on Wednesday.
The i3, which rolled into showrooms in 2013, is BMW’s first pure-electric production car. With a 22 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and a range of 80 to 100 miles, the US version of the car costs just over $40,000. LAPD did not announce how much its contract was worth, but fleet customers typically negotiate significant discounts off the list price.
The cars will join 68 other electric vehicles in Los Angeles’ fleet, making it the largest municipal fleet of electric cars in the country, according to a department blog post. The BMW order will help the department comply with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan that requires at least half of all new city vehicles to be electric.
“Every sector should be migrating to green technology — and these new EVs show how local government can lead,” Garcetti said in a statement. “Our sustainability plan pushes L.A. to speed adoption of greener practices and technologies, which also save money and resources. If LAPD can do it, so can everyone else.”
The LAPD had been testing the i3 alongside two loaner Teslas and a handful of other electric motorcycles and scooters available for patrol officers to drive. Its administrator Vartan Yegiyan said in May that while he saw promise in the technology, LAPD planned to wait until prices became more competitive and charging stations more ubiquitous.
The terms of the i3 order address some of those concerns. It is a three-year lease, not a purchase, so the LAPD has the option to change the fleet if it finds a future electric vehicle more suited to its needs. A less-capital-intensive lease also means that the department can afford to buy and install 104 charging stations at a cost of $1.5 million.