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O’Fallon to carefully evaluate hybrid electric police cars

At the April 11 O’Fallon City Council workshop, the city’s fleet manager Jason Del Pozo presented and discussed a plan for careful evaluation of hybrid electric vehicles [HELs] for use in the police department before any widespread use of HELs.

Del Pozo pointed out that the usage of HELs would not be the same as civilian usage. Civilians use HELs for routine commuting and errands, not nearly as demanding as police department’s patrol usage. Civilian HEL experience cannot be used to predict how well HELs would work for the department, he noted.

Before completely committing to the perceived “green” HELs, Del Pozo proposed, and the city council agreed, to a deliberately measured approach. Next January, as part of the 2020 budget, the department will order two HEL police vehicles to begin evaluating actual results versus manufacturer-advertised performance such as fuel mileage [24 MPG] and anticipated maintenance timing. Then, in early 2021, two more HELs will be purchased, also for evaluation.

After that, no other HELs will be purchased until the department and Del Pozo evaluate three to four years of actual results from the four vehicles. During that evaluation period, all other new police vehicles purchased will continue to be naturally-aspirated vehicles, meaning a traditional internal-combustion engine. After evaluations of the four HELs are completed, recommendations will be made to and discussed with the city council.

As approved in March, under the 2019 budget, the department will be purchasing 11 new Ford Explorer vehicles to replace 11 worn-out older police cars. All 11 of those have been ordered as naturally-aspirated vehicles. Beginning with model year 2020 [in late 2019], Ford Explorer HEL police cars will become the standard police vehicle offered by Ford. However, the department will continue to specify naturally-aspirated vehicles, not HELs, because those currently have a proven and more predictable life span as police cars.

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