It’s Not Easy Going Green: The Case of the Black-and-White Beemer

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Back in 2014, Mayor Eric Garcetti took a brave step by committing to transform the vehicle fleet of the City of Los Angeles from nasty fuel-guzzling combustion engines to environmentally-friendly electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Including law enforcement.

For police units, they chose the BMW i3, a $45,000 plug-in hybrid without the optional gasoline “range extender”. Because who would need that?

It did not go well.

Despite Mayor Garcetti and Chief Beck’s enthusiasm, the program was not exactly a success. The elephant in the room was the cost, which included charging stations, amassed to a staggering $10,267,699. Moreover, most of LA’s finest i3s accumulated under 20,000 miles due to the “administrative” title placed on the cars. Namely, the i3s were not suited for patrolling. [Source: insideevs.com]

Got that? The City originally accepted BWM’s bid to supply 100 BMW i3’s a year for three years, 2017-19. The 2018’s were unavailable, so the city spent $10.3 million on 200 cars plus charging stations. Since the cars’ 81-mile range on a charge is not much use policing LA’s 500 sq miles, the cars mostly sat in the garage gathering dust.

(Aside from this guy decided to use one for his commute…)

As of last August, New Century BMW (the dealer which originally leased the vehicles to the city) was selling gently loved, pre-owned black and white BMW i3’s to the public at $15- to $20,000, less than half the original value, even the ones with under 10,000 miles (16,100 km) on the odometer.

This episode should be a warning to every politician, Republican and Democrat, who is caught up in green euphoria. Take a breath; wait a while. The right time will come, maybe. In general, the sweeping, centrally-planned solution is the worst one available, worse than doing nothing.

(Voiceover): “This is the city: Los Angeles, California. My partner and I were working the day watch out of Central Division. I asked Captain for the keys to my regular unit, ’67 Coronet in blue. Captain says no dice, Joe; word came down from on high that we gotta put some miles on the Beemers. Save the planet and all. On high, Cap’n? You got that right, Friday. Garcetti. None higher. Cap’n throws me the fob. You gumshoes be careful out there, Friday. Wish us luck Cap’n. That roller skate won’t hold a charge, and there’s no charging stations on Skid Row. 

“My partner is Bill Gannon. My name is Friday; I carry a badge, and I drive a car that can barely make it to Randy’s Donuts.”

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