The Future of Law Enforcement: Unplugged Performance’s Tesla Model Y Police Cars

August 6, 2023
3 mins read

Unplugged Performance, a Californian firm with a rich history of enhancing Teslas, is making a substantial move into a new business direction by establishing a division named UPfit to produce Tesla Model Y police vehicles. The firm has been renowned for building some of the fastest Teslas globally, from Pikes Peak-challenging hillclimb cars to traditional time attack racers.

It’s now expanding its scope by leveraging the potential of electric vehicles (EVs) in police fleets, given their efficiency during idle hours. Police cars often spend a significant amount of time in idle mode, whether for speed enforcement or street patrols, which can be hard on conventional combustion engines and wasteful in terms of fuel consumption.

In contrast, an EV draws power from its high-voltage pack to run heating, air conditioning, and vehicle electronics when stationary, resulting in less wear and tear on the vehicle. Another factor favoring EVs in this context is fuel economy, as an idling combustion engine yields zero miles per gallon.

This compares to the relatively minuscule energy draw of an electric vehicle running climate control, giving EVs a clear advantage in efficiency. EVs also excel at operating the continuously-on equipment that has become an integral part of policing.

Unplugged Performance chose the Tesla Model Y for this venture due to its availability and volume in the market. The Model Y’s wide production and use over the years offer reliable data, making it a safe choice for critical equipment like police cars.

Unplugged Performance’s specialization in Teslas also plays a crucial role in the decision to opt for the Model Y. Despite a hefty price tag of $91,990 when fully fitted, the cop-spec Model Y is claimed to offer a saving of $7,000 compared to an upfitted Ford Police Interceptor Utility.

Taking into account lifetime cost savings, these EVs become even more attractive, with options for K-9-specific accommodations to NIJ III+ armoring also available. The city of South Pasadena has already embraced this revolution, ordering 20 of these advanced police cars.

Unplugged Performance unveiled their first Tesla Model Y Police Vehicle at the Tesla Takeover, the world’s largest Tesla gathering, held in San Luis Obispo, CA. The company believes this marks the beginning of a new generation of police vehicles that will significantly transform public safety and law enforcement.

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This isn’t a novel concept, as several law enforcement agencies globally have successfully incorporated electric cars into their fleets. Large police departments like the NYPD have shown interest in EVs, ordering large numbers of electric police vehicles like the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT.

Critics often argue about the long charging times, limited range, complexity, and reliability of EVs, especially for emergency service use. However, Unplugged Performance asserts that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, especially considering that EVs can stay on and ready without burning fuel while idling.

Unplugged states that traditional police vehicles burn about 60% of their gasoline while idling, with figures indicating that a 2018 Ford Police Interceptor SUV burns around 1,633 gallons of fuel annually under such conditions. With EVs not burning fuel while operating and keeping all devices running, they make a perfect patrol vehicle.

Unplugged’s preference for Tesla comes from the brand’s high-volume EV production, proven designs, and a robust, growing Supercharger network. Tesla’s large stock makes them readily available for immediate outfitting, giving them an edge in the burgeoning EV market.

Furthermore, Unplugged Performance has a decade-long history of working with Teslas, growing its expertise and knowledge of new technologies. The newly established UPfit will be a one-stop-shop where law enforcement can order vehicles with upgraded electrical, safety, lighting, charging, and technology aspects.

Ben Schaffer, CEO of Unplugged Performance, asserts that a properly equipped Tesla police car offers the most capable, safest, and comfortable environment for an officer. He expresses excitement over introducing the UPfit division for Tesla Police Vehicles, and confidence that they represent the best choice for taxpayers and police officers.

South Pasadena, CA, will be the first US city to replace its entire fleet with EVs, with the first Model Y Police Vehicle delivery slated soon. While real-world performance is yet to be seen, Unplugged Performance’s reputation for building exceptional Teslas instills optimism.

The new police vehicle, heavily modified by Unplugged Performance, sports a new steel bull bar and flashing blue and red lights below the hood’s opening. The Model Y comes with new LED lights on the front quarter panels, gloss black aftermarket wheels, and all-terrain tires.

Its interior has been completely overhauled for police duties, with panels separating police officers in front from any individuals they detain in the second row. Unplugged Performance highlights that EVs can power all onboard electronics while idling, with the battery pack draining at a very slow rate.

The company views its evolution into fleet upfitting for Police Departments as a natural extension of its ten-year journey of Tesla platform innovation. Unplugged Performance’s UPfit division’s emergence signifies the advent of the next generation of police vehicles, a development keenly watched by taxpayers, law enforcement agencies, and EV enthusiasts alike.

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