The Westport Police Department has become Connecticut’s first law enforcement agency to include a Tesla vehicle in its automotive fleet.
The fully electric 2020 Tesla Model 3 boasts a 310-mile range and sustained speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.
The department paid $52,290 for the vehicle, compared to the $37,000 that it would normally spend on the Ford Explorer that makes up the majority of its fleet. However, Police Chief Foti Koskinas stated that he “believes in being green” and added that fuel and maintenance savings over the life of the vehicle will compensate for the higher purchase price.
The presence of a Tesla in a Connecticut police fleet is also somewhat unusual because Tesla vehicles are not sold in the state. Unlike other automobile manufacturers, Tesla bypasses the dealership system and sells directly to consumers. But the Connecticut Franchise Act prohibits the direct sale of automobiles from manufacturers to consumers. Tesla had operated a “gallery” in Greenwich that enabled prospective buyers to examine and test drive vehicles for later purchase by telephone and internet, with delivery supposedly taking place outside of Connecticut.
The Greenwich venue was shut down in March; the closest Tesla store to Fairfield County is at The Westchester in White Plains. Tesla has repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to lobby the state legislature to change the law on direct automobile sales. In July, the Connecticut Supreme Court agreed to hear Tesla’s argument on overturning the Connecticut Franchise Act.
The department did not offer details on how it acquired the new car, nor did it mention whether it tested other electric vehicles before deciding on this model.
The department is no stranger to electric vehicles, having purchased a hybrid-electric Toyota Prius in 2007.
The department’s announcement follows a very different incident where law enforcement and Tesla overlapped. Last weekend, a Tesla Model 3 running on the autopilot feature rear-ended a parked state trooper vehicle along the side of I-95 in Norwalk that was helping a disabled vehicle. No one was injured in the accident and the driver was issued a misdemeanor summons for reckless driving and reckless endangerment.
The Westport Police Department insisted its officers would not deploy the autopilot feature while on duty.