Tesla Model S police car nearly runs out of range in midpursuit

According to a report, the Tesla wasn't charged at the end of a previous shift.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Fremont Police Department Tesla Model S patrol car

A good reminder: always plug your EVs in.

Fremont Police Department

The Fremont, California, police department looks a little different than others, largely due to the fact it runs a Tesla Model S police vehicle. Yet, the department likely learned a tough lesson when the Model S police car suffered a nearly depleted battery right in the middle of a police pursuit. 

The Mercury News first reported on the situation on Tuesday and gathered the radio conversations between Fremont Officer Jesse Hartman and local dispatch. In the call, he begins pursuit of a "felony vehicle" before noting the Model S police cruiser only showed six miles of electric range before the battery was completely out of juice.

After stating "I may lose it here in a second," conveying he was nearing the end of the electric car's battery life, the radio transmission relays Officer Hartman's request for another unit to take over the pursuit lead. Shortly after the Model S neared the end of its range, police terminated the chase amid the suspect's unsafe driving maneuvers. Officer Hartman, meanwhile, said he needed to find a charging station to make it back to the city. The Tesla police car juiced up in San Jose before returning to the station.

Roadshow reached out to the Fremont Police Department for comment and were told it's unclear why the Tesla wasn't charged that particular day. Officer Hartman's shift began at 2 p.m., and he initiated the traffic stop that led to a pursuit at 11 p.m. The department is, overall, thrilled with the Tesla's performance as a police cruiser. A department spokesperson said the Model S typically returns with 40% to 50% of its battery life remaining. On this particular day, the battery actually lasted two full shifts. It was an unfortunate coincidence that a pursuit occurred just as it reached the end of the charge.

The representative added that this situation isn't totally uncommon, as even the department's gasoline-powered vehicles have run out fuel. As for the pursuit, other units were available to take over the pursuit lead if the approximately 10-mile-long pursuit continued and wasn't terminated. This was the electric police car's second police pursuit, and the representative said it "performed well."

It sounds like there's room for more electric cars in law enforcement, but a lesson learned nonetheless -- plug 'em in at the end of a shift.

Tesla Model S Long Range takes us back to the future

See all photos
Watch this: We ride along in Tesla Mobile Service's customized Model S