- The Hastings-on-Hudson Police Department in New York announced it took delivery of a Tesla Model Y police car in December.
- The announcement met backlash online from social media users who felt that an electric luxury car is excessive use of taxpayer dollars.
- The department said the purchase is part of a move toward environmental sustainability, and that it expects to save money on fuel in the long-term, according to local outlet News 12 Westchester.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
A police department in New York State took delivery of its first Tesla Model Y cruiser, fueling calls on social media to slash police budgets.
The Hastings-on-Hudson Police Department announced the new addition to its fleet on Facebook late last month, calling the vehicle "the first Model Y that has been outfitted with lights, sirens and radio for police use - in the whole country (maybe even the world!)."
The department said it assigned the car to its detective division.
But the purchase was met with sharp criticism online from people who see an electric luxury car as an extravagant use of taxpayer funds.
"This is what we mean when we say DEFUND THE POLICE. All that extra money can be used to better the communities they serve," one Twitter user said. "Defund doesn't mean 'cancel or dismantle the police' it means doing better for everyone..... common sense y'all."
A Tesla Model Y retails for $49,990 and up, while a Dodge Charger, common in police departments across the country, starts at roughly $30,000 for a 2021 model. And there are cheaper, albeit less stylish, electric vehicles on the market that offer comparable range to the Model Y, such as the $38,220 Nissan Leaf S Plus.
—George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) December 30, 2020
—Ki (@likklekii) December 29, 2020
The Hastings-on-Hudson Police Department, for its part, sees the investment as a way to move toward environmental sustainability and save money on gas in the long-run. The department did not respond to Insider's request for comment.
"We're trying to go green with our fleet. We're hoping that people will see us as more friendly," Police Chief David Dosin told News 12 Westchester. The department estimates the Model Y will lead to a fuel savings of roughly $8,500 over five years, the outlet reported.
EVs also tend to require less maintenance than their gas-powered counterparts, making them attractive buys for government and commercial fleets.
The US Postal Service plans to replace its aging trucks (which keep catching on fire) with a fleet of 180,000 battery-powered vans. Amazon commissioned a fleet of 100,000 delivery vans from EV startup Rivian, which are set to hit roads starting in 2022.
The Los Angeles Police Department has used BMW i3 hatchbacks in the past, and a handful of US police departments have Teslas in their fleets, including the police force in Fremont, California, where Tesla's US factory is based.
Despite the potential upsides, some think a Tesla police car is excessive, especially given the wide array of cheaper, sustainable vehicles on the market today.
"There is no logical reason why a police force needs a Tesla, and if the argument is environmental there are cheaper options," one person tweeted.
The criticism - and a given police department's desire to avoid it - could make a dent in any burgeoning fleet sales Tesla may see.
In another fleet use for Tesla's EVs, a New York City taxi operator started using a Tesla Model 3 as a yellow cab in late 2020, with plans to expand with additional cars.