Location: Somerset, WI

Fleet Type: Law Enforcement

 

Narrative

Somerset, a town in northwest Wisconsin with a population of just over 3,000, may seem like an unlikely place for early electric vehicle adoption. However, in January of 2023, the Somerset Police Department adopted its first Tesla Model Y police cruiser. The police department recently downsized their police fleet from five squad cars to three and cited lifecycle cost as the primary driving force for their EV adoption. 

After conducting a cost analysis, the police department determined that their traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and even their hybrid vehicle, were costing the department – and the taxpayers – more than the benefits they were receiving from those vehicle models. The Police Chief stated that the increased maintenance costs from the ICE vehicles were preventing the department from making any new vehicle purchases. By adopting the Tesla Model Y, the department is projected to save more than $80,000 over the vehicle’s ten year lifecycle. Somerset Police Department offset the cost of the vehicle purchase by receiving support from multiple sources including the American Rescue Plan Act, a Law Enforcement Agency grant, and various donations.

Cost was not the only determining factor influencing the department’s decision to purchase a Model Y. The Police Department determined that the use-case for a patrol cruiser more closely matches the capabilities of an EV than that of a traditional ICE or hybrid vehicle. Because of the quick acceleration, high idle-time, and frequent slow-speed driving, EV technologies were better suited for their needs. 

Somerset Police Department has received positive feedback from the community and the officers alike. The Police Chief says that many of the officers prefer to drive the Model Y to the older cruisers. The department also encourages community members to ask questions and experience the cruiser in person at an open-house they hosted in February of 2023.

Outputs and Outcomes

Wisconsin Clean Cities partnered with the Somerset Police Department to present at the 2023 Transportation and Innovation Expo and Conference.  Police Chief Joel Trepczyk presented on the panel entitled: Small Fleets: Big Impact- Lead the Charge for Implementing Clean Fleets in Your Community.  This was a great opportunity to share their success story, educate attendees on electric vehicle adoption, and answer questions from event attendees.  Now as a new coalition member, WCC will continue to collaborate with the Somerset Police Department as they continue their transition to add additional electric vehicles to their fleet.

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

  1. Engaging with peer fleets to understand deployment challenges and strategies to overcome them is important. Somerset Police Department connected with a police department in Eden Prairie, Minnesota to discuss the community’s experience with their Model Y and better prepare for their own deployment. 
  2. Environmental consciousness is not the only reason to deploy an alternative fuel vehicle. Some communities, especially smaller ones, can only prioritize the cost trade-offs and still find it necessary to switch from traditional ICE vehicles to EVs.
  3. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis to ensure a community is getting the best bang for their buck out of their vehicles is essential to maximizing citizen tax dollars. 
  4. Financial support opportunities exist and can be stacked to help offset the initial capital investment in an EV.

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Somerset Police Department Fleet Story

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