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By Samuel R. Avro on Feb 18, 2009 with no responses

NYPD to Roll Out Hybrid Fleet on the Beat

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The Ford Escape hybrid which the department uses for traffic enforcement.

Police departments that rack up the miles driven on usually large cars and SUV’s are seeking alternative methods to maintain their fleet while reducing fuel costs.

The New York Police Department is set to roll out 40 Nissan Altima hybrid patrol cars in the next two weeks, according to a report in the New York Post.

Unlike other hybrid cars and SUV’s the department already uses for transportation and traffic enforcement, this new fleet will undertake the rigors of patrol duty.

“We won’t know whether they are suitable for wider use until they are subjected to the NYPD’s demanding environment, which includes virtual 24-hour-a-day operation by multiple drivers,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne was quoted as saying in the Post.

The NYPD has spent $1.1 million to buy and outfit the new ecofriendly cars, which run on combination gas-electric engines. The Nissan hybrids were built at the company’s plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

Currently, the 3,524-vehicle patrol fleet of the NYPD is comprised mostly of large gas-guzzling cars such as the Chevrolet Impala and Ford Crown Victoria, which only get about 16-18 miles per gallon in the city. The hope is, that the fuel-efficient hybrids will live up to the tests which would enable the department to begin an overhaul of their entire fleet.

The hybrid Altima is expected to get 35 mpg even in city driving.

18 of the Altima hybrids will be fully-marked patrol cars, complete with lights, sirens and decals, which raises the price from a base cost of $21,500 to $30,752 per car. According to the report, another 20 are unmarked ($25,595 each), and two are disguised as yellow cabs for anticrime work ($28,600 each).

The hybrid has a top speed of 113 miles per hour.

As fuel costs rose to unprecedented levels in the summer of last year, police departments across the nation began to feel the pinch on their budget. The NYPD isn’t the only city to focus on changing over their fleet to more fuel efficient vehicles.

The Salt Lake City Police Department, late last year, purchased five 2009 Toyota Camry 4-door sedan police hybrids, and a number of three-wheeled electic vehicles in an effort to curb the rising fuel costs to the department.

Gasoline costs are responsible for roughly $1.5 million of the Salt Lake City PD’s budget.

An NYPD spokesman said that his department liked the Altima’s “roominess.”

The US News and World Report gave the Altima hybrid a safety score of 9.9, based on crash and rollover tests, plus antilock brakes, traction and wheel stability control, and front, side and head-curtain airbags.