In many ways, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are vastly superior to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. While it's true that they're environmentally friendly and arguably vital to stopping the damage to nature caused by carbon emissions, it's also a fact that EVs are very, very fast and comparatively much easier to maintain. This makes them superb vehicles for first responders.
With the planned switch to EVs comes some challenges, however, as these vehicles are wildly different from their predecessors in ways that first responders need to anticipate. A few companies are preparing for exactly that.
EVs are being introduced to the New York Police Department
What does a 480-horsepower all-electric police interceptor look like? It looks exactly like the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, the police interceptor version of which was presented in Apr. 2022 at the Javits Center for the New York International Auto Show.
With the advent of EVs and their colossal growth that's set to overtake sales of gasoline-powered vehicles as soon as 2025 by some estimates, the NYPD stepped up and purchased its first Tesla Model 3 EV to be used as a patrol vehicle in 2021. By the middle of Apr. 2022, New York City approved the purchase of 250 more. Now, intending to be carbon-neutral by 2050, NYC has begun an initiative to make its entire vehicle lineup completely electric by 2035 starting this year with the Mach-E GT.
Out of a variety of potential EV police interceptors, the Mach-E GT scored the highest for sheer acceleration — able to hit 60 mph from zero in 3.5 seconds — and braking. The Mach-E GT is capable of traveling 270 miles on a full charge with its 88 kWh battery pack.
GM is introducing an EV First Responder Training program
As part of GM's new EV lineup, which includes the Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Hummer EV, and Chevrolet Bolt, the company is advancing a training program for first responders to introduce them to the unique challenges that EVs hold in situations involving them.
For example, unlike traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, EVs place much of the weight in the vehicle at the bottom. This is where the battery pack is typically located, often weighing thousands of pounds. It's not just the redistributed weight that can make rescuing the people inside a challenge, it's also the sheer amount of energy that's stored in the battery pack.
The courses combine live presentations, virtual demonstrations, videos, and discussions from experts. GM encourages both first responders and owners of EVs to take advantage of its program.
GM isn't the only company involved in training first responders
In addition to GM's efforts, Tesla maintains a dedicated website intended for first responders. Its purpose is for "helping the fire departments and first responders safely handle emergency situations involving all Tesla products." Included are "emergency response guides" and "quick response sheets," individually produced for many of their vehicles.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) maintains its own Emergency Response Guides compiled from over 60 manufacturers for first responders to use as reference. From newer companies such as Lucid to established brands such as Ford and Jeep, all of its guides are free to download and readily available.
The advantages of EVs make them excellent vehicles for first responders both from a performance and maintenance standpoint. Nonetheless, while these benefits are numerous, there are still some challenges to overcome before they can become mainstream for first responder units. These groups need to be aware of the hazards and mechanical differences inherent to these cars and trucks to avoid unnecessary injury. Companies such as GM and Tesla as well as the NFPA are attempting to make the switch as seamless as possible so first responders can take advantage of these new vehicles.