Here in sunny San Francisco and in many other major cities, hybrid taxis and buses are pretty commonplace. But New Yorkers might want to get used to seeing hybrid police cars, as well, because the largest police department in the U.S., the New York Police Department (NYPD), is replacing 40 of its squad cars with Nissan Altima hybrids.
The 40 hybrid squad cars (18 marked, 22 unmarked) will be the first gas-electric hybrids to be used as regular patrol cars by the NYPD.
There is a premium for this new technology and the new Altima hybrids are about $1,500 more than the old standard Chevrolet Impala currently used by the NYPD, but according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, "Through savings in fuel, these Altimas can quickly cover their additional cost, from then they will save taxpayers money - another example of how going green is good for our environment and our pocketbooks."
The vehicles will be used primarily for city driving, where the Altima averages 35 mpg versus the Impala's 16 mpg. I'll let you do the math to figure out how long it will take for the the new hybrids to start paying back.
The Altima hybrid squad cars will be monitored for a year, after which New York officials will evaluate whether or not to expand the hybrid program.
What strikes me as odd is that I've never seen an imported squad car in use on an American police force, although I know they exist, which makes me wonder if there was a reason (besides perhaps size constraints) that the Altima was chosen over the domestic Fusion hybrid.