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Madison squad car (copy)

A traditional Madison Police Department squad car.

For the first time, the Madison Police Department will start using gas-electric hybrid patrol vehicles, the department announced Monday.

The 36 police vehicles being purchased this year consist of 28 hybrid-powered Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles for use as regular squad cars and eight Ford Fusion hybrids for use by detectives. That will bring the total number of Fusions to 14 after detectives started driving them last year.

The gasoline-powered version of the Interceptor was long a top seller for police use, and currently makes up about half of Madison police’s patrol fleet, according to city fleet services superintendent Mahanth Joishy.

Police have not test-driven the hybrid squads, but Joishy said Ford has assured the city that the vehicles provide the same acceleration and other attributes needed for high-speed pursuits.

At $35,079, the 2020 model-year hybrid Interceptor costs about $3,000 more than the gasoline-powered version. At about $23,000, the Fusion costs about $2,000 more than the standard detective car, the gasoline-powered Chevy Impala. The police department says it will recoup the costs because the hybrids use about 1,000 fewer gallons of fuel per vehicle per year.

With the city now paying $2 a gallon for gas, that works out to about $2,000 in savings per vehicle per year, Joishy said, “on top of halving our CO2 emissions.”

Plus, police vehicles spend a lot of time idling, and when the vehicles are gasoline-powered only, “that really damages engines quite a lot,” Joishy said. Hybrids, by contrast, mostly rely on their batteries while idling, which cuts down on engine wear and tear and and extends vehicle life.

Madison has been looking to increase its electric and hybrid vehicles, and this year got a $129,000 state grant to offset some of the cost of buying 20 all-electric Chevy Bolts. The majority of its trucks have switched to biodiesel blends that Joishy said have “had a more dramatic positive impact on CO2 emissions.”

The city’s fleet — not including Metro Transit and Water Utility vehicles — consists of about 1,400 vehicles, 60 of which are expected to be hybrids and 30 to be electric vehicles by early next year.

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