With new petrol and diesel cars due to be banned from the end of the decade, it’s not just members of the public who are expected to transition to electric vehicles over the coming years – the police will also need to do the same.
And some have already started adding battery-powered cars to their fleets, with UK forces boasting over 430 electric vehicles to date and over 800 of their own dedicated charging points, according to a new piece of research.
Motoring title Auto Express asked UK constabularies up and down the country how many EVs they currently run and found that numbers are not evenly spread, with some using almost 100 and others none at all.
You’ve been charged! UK police forces already have over 430 electric vehicles in their fleets. We reveal the constabularies with the most battery models and those that don’t have any at all
All 45 UK police forces were contacted via freedom of information request, though just 34 responded.
Of those, 26 constabularies said they had at least one electric vehicle within their fleet, while the remaining seven said they are yet to be using a battery model for official police purposes.
Of the 11 remaining forces, some refused to provide the information because it was ‘not in the public interest’.
The UK largest force – unsurprisingly – has the most EVs on fleet at the moment.
The Metropolitan Police Service currently has 99 fully electric vehicles, including 50 Nissan e-NV200 electric vans, 41 Nissan Leaf hatchbacks and eight BMW K17 C Evolution maxi-scooters.
The force also uses a large number of BMW i3 patrol cars, however, these are range-extending models that have a small supplementary petrol engine, rather than the fully-electric versions of the German model.
The investigation also asked UK forces about the number of EV chargepoints they have installed in order to keep their battery cars and motorcycles running for duty.
|Police force||Number of electric vehicles||Number of EV charging points|
|Metropolitan Police Service||99||264|
|West Midlands Police||41||52|
|Avon and Somerset Constabulary||21||10|
|West Mercia Police||16||11|
|Norfolk and Suffolk||12||20|
|North Wales Police||12||19|
|South Yorkshire Police||11||24|
|Devon and Cornwall Constabulary||4||6|
|South Wales Police||3||11|
|West Yorkshire Police||2||6|
|North Yorkshire Police||1||6|
|City of London Police||0||0|
|Police Service of Northern Ireland||0||0|
|Greater Manchester Police||*||*|
|Thames Valley Police||*||*|
|Source: Auto Express FOI request to 45 UK police forces of which 34 responded
* failed to respond to FOI request
The Met also has the highest number of charging points with 264 spread across its 33 police stations.
It told Auto Express that its 99 vehicles charge mostly using these devices, though officers do ‘occasionally’ need to plug into public charging points, too.
Another force with a large number of electric vehicles is Gloucestershire Constabulary, which has 83 in total.
Of the EVs it has, 72 are Nissan Leafs, nine are Nissan e-NV200s and it also has two Tesla Model 3s.
The force has 59 chargers in total at 17 police stations in the county, and it also has a strict policy to only use these and never to use public chargers that are in short supply for EV-owning members of the public.
Earlier this year, the Local Democracy Reporting Service submitted its own FOI request to Gloucestershire Constabulary regarding the number of times its fleet of electric vehicles have ran out of power during a shift.
It confirmed two recorded instances of EV vehicles running out of power – one in 2019 and another last year.
Neither were during an emergency situation as the force says the electric vehicles are ‘not authorised to respond to emergency incidents’, according to Gloucestershire Live.
Gloucestershire Police currently has the second highest volume of EVs on fleet behind the Met. It has 72 Nissan Leafs (left and right) and nine Nissan e-NV200s (centre)
The BMW i3 is the second most-common electric vehicle currently being used by the police, Auto Express found in its investigation
The Leaf is by far the most popular EV of choice for UK forces, with 117 in operation, which accounts for over a quarter (27 per cent) of all electric cars with blues and twos.
The BMW i3, Nissan e-NV200 and Vauxhall Corsa-e are also highly popular choices, with 87, 71 and 60 of these vehicles featuring in police fleets respectively, Auto Express found.
Police forces up and down the country have this year been offered to trial a £60,000 Tesla Model 3 patrol car that’s been fully adapted for officer use by the US car maker.
Elon Musk’s brand claimed it had received ‘mind blowing’ reports from officers as well as plenty of public support for the 162mph electric saloon.
A synopsis of the first nine months of the trial published at the end of last year said the police Model 3 was capable of running for up to four hours of continuous ‘advanced driving conditions’. Officers using the car have been able to access the company’s Supercharger network of charging devices.
Tesla has this year loaned a modified £60,000 Model 3 electric saloon for police forces to trial to understand if they think the vehicle will be a useful addition as a patrol vehicle
Tesla claims after the first nine months of the trial that officers had waxed lyrically about the 162mph EVs ‘mind blowing’ performance as a police car
Most common police electric vehicles in use
1. Nissan Leaf
2. BMW i3
3. Nissan e-NV200
4. Vauxhall Corsa-e
5. Renault Zoe
6. Peugeot e-208
7. BMW K17 C Evolution
8. Peugeot e-Expert
=9. Hyundai Kona Electric
=9. SEAT Mii
=9. Vauxhall Vivaro-e
Source: Auto Express FOI request to 45 UK police forces of which 34 responded
Forces that responded to the FOI request and said they have zero EVs right now included Cambridgeshire, City of London, Durham, Lancashire, Northern Ireland, Staffordshire and Warwickshire.
Police Scotland is one of the 11 forces not to have provided information about the number of electric cars or chargers it currently has.
A spokesperson said this was both because it does not hold all information on record and said it ‘would be against the public interest’ to tell the motoring title about the numbers of EVs it operates.
Yet, in August it did tell the Scottish Liberal Democrats that it has spent around £20million buying electric cars to bolster its fleet of vehicles.
However, the force also admitted to the political party that it had so far failed to install the necessary infrastructure to charge them, with vehicles being left overnight in public car parks to replenish the batteries.