Scotland Yard – the territorial police force responsible for policing most of London, is launching a ‘green revolution’ with a new fleet of hundreds of hybrid electric cars to help combat London’s toxic air crisis, UK’s Evening Standard has reported.
The force is planning to put 250 alternative energy cars on the roads within 12 months in the first stage of a major overhaul of its 4,000 or so vehicle fleet.
Evening Standard said they will include revolutionary hydrogen fuel cell vehicles being used as emergency response cars for the first time in the UK.
In addition, more than 30 hybrid electric cars will be rolled out across London boroughs to respond to 999 calls.
Among other options being tested are hydrogen scooters for PCSOs (police community support officer) patrolling bus lanes and roads.
It explained that Met Chief, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe spoke to Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive of electric car maker, Tesla, about testing his cars for front line operations.
The moves it noted come as London is facing increasing fears over levels of pollution with a series of toxic “black” alerts over air quality in recent weeks.
The Met say officials are working with Mayor Sadiq Khan who has stepped up measures to combat pollution with plans for five low emission neighbourhoods spanning eight boroughs.
The force, which has stopped buying new diesel cars, wants to put around 250 hybrid electric or alternative energy vehicles on the roads in London in the next 12 months.
The force is planning to test vehicles in the low emission areas in central London where it is hoped around half of all police cars will be hybrids by next year.
The move is part of a £21 million programme to replace 700 of the Met’s 4,000 or so vehicle fleet in 2017 and 2018.
Senior officials say they are in discussions with nearly all major car manufacturers including Ford, Mercedes, Nissan, Renault and VW to test vehicles ranging from cars to mopeds and vans.
The force is also working with Suzuki on a trial of a hydrogen scooter as well as testing Toyota’s £66,000 Mirai hydrogen cell car as a front line response vehicle.
So far, tests involving a £30,000 BMW i3 Range Extender, which can do O-62mph in 7.3 seconds, as a fast response car have proved successful in several Met boroughs.
Now the force is planning to trial five hydrogen powered vehicles as emergency response vehicles, though the pilot scheme will be limited to areas close to the five hydrogen cell charging points in the capital.
Police say they could have 32 hybrid electric front line response cars deployed in London by next year with trials under way in Westminster, Wandsworth, Greenwich, Bexley and Lambeth.
Electric vans are equally planned for scenes of crime officers and Royalty protection officers are to get 10 hybrid vehicles.
Jiggs Bharij, the head of the Met’s fleet services, said: “The response from police drivers to the BMW i3 has been very positive. It’s actually a very quick car.”
He said the Met was examining different “plug-in hybrid technologies” and hydrogen and compressed natural gas as possible alternative fuels.
He said: “We have to make sure that we have an operational police fleet which can respond to 24/7 policing, that is our top priority.”