One Year Later, NYPD's Hybrid Fleet Thriving
In April 2009, the New York Police Department (NYPD) announced the rollout of 40 Nissan Altima Hybrids, the first hybrid vehicles driven by NYPD patrol officers. The number of hybrids in the NYPD fleet now has increased to 235 cars and SUVs of various makes and models. In addition to the Altima, the Ford Fusion, Ford Escape, GMC Yukon, and Toyota Prius are being deployed not only as marked and unmarked patrol cars, but also as vehicles for the Parking Enforcement and School Safety divisions.
The cost of modifying these hybrids, which were designed for civilians, for patrol and other police use is approximately $1,600 per car. This cost, as well as the cost for purchasing the vehicles, has come partly from the fleet’s annual budget and from funding by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PLANYC, which aims to reduce the city’s global warming emissions by 30 percent.1 While emergency response vehicles were exempted from this mandate, the NYPD decided to begin proactively integrating hybrids into their fleet. NYPD’s Fleet Services Director Robert Martinez sees his division’s responsibilities and priorities as “mission, safety, go green.” “If we can still do our mission,” said Martinez, “we’ll go green.” Thus far, the NYPD’s mission and desire to go green have proved compatible. The hybrids have been able to handle all the extra electric load of a police package, including data equipment, lighting, and sirens. LED lighting systems installed in the vehicles have also helped by drawing less electricity and lasting longer than their incandescent counterparts.
After comparing mileage data, precinct to precinct, of traditional and hybrid vehicles, the NYPD’s hybrids are averaging about two-thirds better mileage than comparable, traditional police packages such as the Chevy Impala and Crown Victoria. Some fleet managers have speculated that repairs on hybrids would be more costly, especially since police generally are known to drive aggressively and be tough on their cars because of the nature of their work. However, NYPD’s Fleet Services reported that no significant increase in repair costs for the hybrids has occurred. In fact, one of the advantages of the hybrids’ regenerative braking system, which converts some of the kinetic energy usually lost by traditional brakes into stored electricity for the vehicle’s battery, is that the hybrids’ brakes are lasting two to three times longer than those in traditional vehicles.
Officers have also responded positively to hybrids. While Martinez has received a few complaints about cabin space in the new hybrids, he also reported that “the guys who bring the (hybrids) in for repairs don’t want to leave them in the shop overnight.” The hybrids have been so popular that the NYPD plans on buying 203 additional vehicles in FY 2010.