WOLFEBORO — Wolfeboro police have added an usual squad car to its fleet of cruisers.
A 2021 Model Y Tesla was bought with money given by a family that wishes to remain anonymous. Selectmen accepted it in April.
The Tesla is all electric — no gas or motor oil changes required. It’s the first Tesla police cruiser in New Hampshire. Other police departments with Tesla cruisers include those in Westport, Conn., and Fremont, Calif. (home of the Tesla factory).
The cruiser is the fastest car in Wolfeboro’s fleet and can go 0-60 mph in about 4.8 seconds. The car had to be customized with 20-inch tires, and the police radio and siren switches are on a remote control-type device instead of in the console.
The car with two extra tires would cost $53,000, but making various modifications increased the cost to $66,000. The donors paid for all of it.
The car was assigned to Capt. Mark Livie. “We thank them every day,” said Livie. “I do.”
The car has already helped him rush to the scene of an accidental shooting, where he rendered aid and collected evidence. He said that extra speed was nice to have — especially because the call came in as a shooting, not an accidental discharge.
The Tesla is also much quieter compared to a regular cruiser. And from the front it looks like a normal car so speeders and those illegally holding their cellphones get caught off-guard, Livie said.
The car’s stealthiness could also come in handy on more serious calls, he said. “You look at domestics, burglaries or somebody breaking and entering into a commercial building,” said Livie. “This vehicle is great because they’re not going to hear me coming up.”
The car is outfitted with blue lights around the outside when he needs to make it clear the Tesla is a police cruiser and the sides are painted with the Wolfeboro Police logo like all the other cruisers.
But the benefit of Tesla isn’t limited just to catching speeders or responding to emergencies. It’s also great for public relations and connecting in a friendly way with Wolfeboro’s residents and visitors.
“When I’m downtown, if I park, the kids are attracted to these kind of vehicles,” said Livie. “They want to see the inside.”
Livie said it was going to be assigned to detectives, but Chief Dean Rondeau decided to assign it to an experienced uniformed officer like Livie so the public could see it more. Detective cars are unmarked.
The interior is different than other cars. For example, the dash doesn’t have the usual instrumentation, such as a speedometer. Instead it has a wood finish dash. The speedometer and other driver information is available on a computer screen to the right of the driver, and Livie says the view of it is better than a traditional dash because you don’t have to look down.
There’s no key. Livie says he can get into it with a special card or his phone. He can also operate the air conditioning and heat with his phone.
The car gets about 327 miles per full charge but how long the batteries last depends on how hard the car is driven.
Livie said he charges it when the battery gets to about 40 percent. Charging it back up to 100 percent takes about three hours. The car costs about $33 per month to operate, which is about 25 percent less than a regular cruiser.
Livie said basically the only maintenance it needs is brakes, tires and wiper blades. And you don’t even have to use the brake much because it instantly decelerates if you take your foot off the accelerator.
“Right now, cruisers are lasting 10-11 years, and then we change them out,” said Livie. “But knowing that this is assigned to me, the goal is to get this probably to 15 years.”
The LED headlights automatically shift from high to low beams. The windshield wipers are also automatic.