SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Police wanted to make sure what Ford touted would actually happen with hybrid squad cars.
Turns out, the claims were true, said Capt. Jeff Garden of the Sioux Falls Police Department. The department now plans to replace its existing squad car fleet with hybrid Fords over the next several years. The department has about 90 vehicles and that number should grow in the next few years as the department grows, he said.
The hybrids have engines that run on fuel and electric power. The electric portion recharges itself such as when the vehicle is braking.
Sioux Falls Police has used two Ford hybrid squad vehicles for the past two years as a test.
“We wanted to see how it reacted after it sat for 24 hours in 20 (F) below temperatures,” Garden said.
Police also monitored fuel use and other items related to performance.
“Everything came back positive,” Garden said.
Sioux Falls Police learned what several other cities in the region have learned with the use of hybrid or electric vehicles.
The city of Brookings has a plug-in hybrid vehicle in its overall fleet, said Chelsie Bakken, the city’s public information officer.
“The vehicle has been effective at decreasing fuel costs, ultimately using less taxpayer dollars,” Bakken said.
The Aberdeen Police Department added several hybrid vehicles a few years ago, said Capt. Jay Tobin.
“Fuel savings is by far the biggest (benefit),” Tobin said. “They are working fine.”
“We’ve projected a 40% fuel savings over the lifespan of the vehicle,” Garden said. Squad cars have a lifespan with city of about three to four years or 100,000 to 125,000 miles or so.
The 40% fuel savings is about 3,000 gallons, he said.
“Police cars run 24/7. They spend a lot of time idling,” Garden said. “For every hour of idling, it’s only 15 minutes of (fuel used).”
Also, the electric motor reduces fuel because it running when the cars are traveling around town.
Garden also expects the maintenance on hybrid cars to be lower than with traditional vehicles. The two-year test has already shown that “Our fleet maintenance is down,” Garden said of the two vehicles.
Although the vehicles are not hybrids, the city of South Sioux City, Nebraska, has benefitted from reduced maintenance with its four electric vehicles, assistant city administrator Oscar Gomez said.
The city of about 14,000 people bought four electric vehicles about eight years ago, Gomez said. It bought an electric motorcycle in 2020.
“The only thing we’ve really done for a maintenance piece is new tires,” Gomez said. “As far as maintenance, it’s really a savings.”
The new hybrid vehicles in Sioux Falls will also have a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty which is longer than a traditional squad car.
The hybrid vehicles used now also accelerated quicker from 0 to 60 mph than traditional vehicles, Garden said.
If it’s practical or available, Aberdeen plans to add more hybrid vehicles to the police fleet, Tobin said.
Brookings will look at hybrid and electric options, Bakken said.
“Within the city’s 10-Year Capital Improvement Plan, staff are directed to weigh the feasibility of purchasing electric or hybrid when vehicles and equipment are due for replacement,” Bakken said. “The city is consistently looking for opportunities that allow for lessening environmental impact within local government.“