In a first for Quebec, police in Repentigny have outfitted a Ford Mustang Mach-E for a six-month trial starting in April, while city council in Bridgewater, N.S., just approved the purchase of a Tesla Model 3 to be made police-ready by summer
As municipalities across Canada look to lower their emissions, they are making some interesting and exciting new additions to local fleets.
The City of Repentigny and its police department, the Service de police de Repentigny (SPVR) is set to launch a six-month pilot project to test Quebec’s first all-electric vehicle specially outfitted for law enforcement, using a modified Ford Mustang Mach-E.
“We’re extremely proud to have put words into action, not just in terms of reducing our eco-footprint, but also by showing our willingness to take care of our employees and ensure their health and safety,” said Repentigny Mayor Nicolas Dufour in a press statement about the EV pilot, which city staff tell Electric Autonomy Canada is expected to start in April.
Shortly after Repentigny’s announcement, on Feb. 14, the town of Bridgewater, N.S., approved the purchase of its first electric police vehicle: a Tesla Model 3, which will go into service this summer.
David Mitchell, mayor of Bridgewater, tweeted shortly after the passing vote saying based on what other jurisdictions are reporting, the city expects to see as much as $5,000 in savings per year from the electric cruiser.
“[T]he car should stay in operation two years longer than the gas equivalent. Over its life it will save thousands,” reads Mitchell’s tweet, in part.
“This certainly won’t be our last EV (for police or full fleet).”
Tesla vs. Ford
Bridgewater’s choice for its first electric police vehicle was largely influenced by what EVs are able to accommodate police equipment and are available in the short term.
City council opted for the Tesla because it supported all “police specific equipment.” The Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck was another option for the force, but is “currently not available for purchase” and with a pre-order backlog of 130,000 vehicles, reads the agenda from Bridgewater’s council meeting.
Tesla has already been experimenting with providing Model 3 police cars in the United Kingdom, while last year in Ontario, Peel Regional Police tested out the Model Y as a police cruiser as that department looks to transition its fleet.
Repentigny took a different approach when sourcing its vehicle, preferring to go the fully-customized route with a local partner. The Ford Mustang Mach-E is also the only electric vehicle to pass the Michigan State Police Vehicle Evaluation Program, which tests different types of vehicles for performance of policing-related duties.
Cyberkar is a Quebec-based company that integrates additional technology into emergency vehicles. The company is responsible for putting a police kit in Repentigny’s electric Ford Mustang Mach-E.
In January 2021, Cyberkar partnered with an engineering firm to assess which EV in the market would be best suited for a police fleet.
The teams determined that the vehicle needed to be an all-wheel drive, a hatchback to fit police equipment in the trunk and have enough battery to complete a full patrol shift without needing to stop to charge.
The top contenders came down to the Tesla Model Y and the Ford Mustang Mach-E. The latter won out for Cyberkar because Ford has longer term experience in manufacturing police-utilized vehicles. Jonathan Boivin, Cyberkar’s business development manager added that the team was also concerned about the Model Y’s winter driving abilities.
Outfitting the Ford Mustang Mach-E
Once the Ford Mustang Mach-E was chosen, the Cyberkar team started to build out the police kit for the vehicle including push bumpers, prisoner partition, moulded seats and reverse seatbelts.
Normally in North America, automakers provide a “police package” option for vehicles that are commonly used by forces. This customization equips the vehicle with police specifications that have already met standards and requirements at the annual Michigan State Police test in order to be approved for police duty. Such a package does not yet exist for the Ford Mustang Mach-E.
Instead, Cyberkar had to design all the components needed from scratch and order parts from the U.S.
“With testing just around the corner, our next aim will be to promote the all-electric car to other Quebec police forces. Ideally, a sufficiently strong interest will help drive down refitting costs and generate economies of scale through the purchase of many vehicles,” said Stéphanie Fortier, organizational performance consultant at the City of Repentigny.
Having successfully completed one vehicle conversion, Boivin agrees that the next goal will be to create a “police package” for the Mach-E and offer it to other police services and departments that want to start using electric vehicles in their fleets.
Interest from U.S.
Now, with experience making usable police equipment designs that can be outfitted in the Mach-E, Cyberkar says they are gaining interest in its law enforcement solutions from other jurisdictions.
Last year, the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) ordered 184 Ford Mustang Mach-Es to be used by several of the city’s agencies including the New York police department, sheriff’s office and corrections departments. The vehicles are expected to arrive later this year, in June.
Cyberkar’s national channel sales manager, Robert St-Germain confirmed in an interview with Electric Autonomy that the company is currently “in discussions” with the DCAS to customize their fleet of Ford Mustang Mach-Es like they did for Repentigny.
“I anticipate that anytime after the summer or during the summer we’re going to start trying to equip these Mach-Es with the appropriate technology,” adds St-Germain.
Testing the vehicle
The Repentigny police’s Ford Mustang Mach-E will be tested in various real-world settings and conditions to evaluate the battery performance and efficiency, including using flashing lights and swift acceleration.
The city is also experimenting with the exterior designs of the patrol car to include “Battenburg markings” inspired by European law enforcement. Studies cited by the city show that the contrasting colours can “ensure high visibility and a look that aims to promote closer ties with the community by fostering a more positive, less menacing image,” reads the press release.
A Repentigny police committee will choose the exterior colour and design before the pilot begins.