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Cotati police unveil electric patrol car, Sonoma County’s first

Cotati city leaders unveiled a new electric patrol vehicle Thursday afternoon that is being touted as a first in Sonoma County.

The Cotati Police Department’s new Tesla Model Y was presented during a ceremony at La Plaza Park, where officials emphasized that the department will likely be acquiring more of these kinds of cars.

“This vehicle will be more cost-effective, saving our citizens money while at the same time helping reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions — something we all recognize we need to do,” Cotati Mayor Mark Landman said.

Cotati becomes the second Bay Area police department — after Fremont— to incorporate an electric vehicle into its fleet, according to Tesla, which added that its vehicles are also already being used by police departments in Vermont and Washington state.

The Tesla will be the Cotati Police Department’s 10th patrol unit and more electric vehicles will be purchased as existing cars are phased out.

Cotati Police Chief Michael Parish said two more electric vehicles may be purchased this fiscal year.

“We would like to be 100% electric vehicle,” he said during Thursday’s presentation.

The new Tesla is already being used and is fully equipped.

“It does everything you need a patrol car to do,” the chief added.

A typical patrol unit, an all-wheel drive Dodge Charger, costs about $35,000, while the Tesla costs about $56,000, according to the city.

Cotati officials acknowledge the Tesla’s higher price tag, but they say the difference in expense evens out because the Tesla costs less to fuel and to maintain.

An electric vehicle does not require smog checks, oil changes, tuneups or other engine-related work, and brake replacement is less frequent.

Patrol cars currently average 9 miles per gallon due to city driving and idling time. They’re used an average of 12,000 miles per year and have a five-year service life.

As of Thursday, Sonoma County drivers paid an average of $5.65 for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel, according to AAA. Cotati gas stations charged as little as $5.29 per gallon Thursday, according to Gas Buddy.

Incorporating electric vehicles into the police department’s patrol fleet, officials said, jibes with state lawmakers plans to phase out new gas-powered vehicles by 2035 and significantly reduce vehicle carbon dioxide emissions and smog-forming nitrogen oxides.

Landman challenged other Sonoma County law enforcement agencies to follow Cotati’s lead and begin to electrify their fleets.

“Once Sonoma County makes this switch, we can make the same friendly challenge to Mendocino and Marin and, once that happens, we can all together watch this take off like a rocket throughout our state,” Landman said.

You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at colin.atagi@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi

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