California Police Department Dumping Its Gas Cruisers for Modded Teslas

Tesla made electric cars cool, and not to be left out, police departments around the world have been modifying the EVs to suit their needs ever since the Tesla Model S sedan went on sale back in 2012. But so far, police procurement of electric vehicles has been in small batches of just a few vehicles at a time at the most. The South Pasadena Police Department wants to go further, and is now replacing its entire fleet of police cars with the Tesla Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV, outfitted for special police work by the notorious Tesla race car modifier Unplugged Performance.

If the Unplugged Performance name rings a bell, it’s because they’re the masters who brought us the tuned Tesla Model S Plaid racer that ran at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race, as well as the cool modified Tesla Model 3 we borrowed for a fun track day last year. Unplugged is surely one of the most well-known and accomplished authorized Tesla tuners, similar to what European tuner shops like Alpina and AMG were for BMW and Mercedes-Benz way back in the day before they were bought and absorbed into their respective automakers—but UP remains independent for now.

Unplugged Performance is pivoting from vehicles the police would probably chase to chase vehicles for the police themselves to drive. The company announced this week that it would be modifying 10 Tesla Model 3 and 10 Tesla Model Y vehicles for use by the South Pasadena Police Department, replacing its entire internal combustion fleet. “Tesla’s stunning track record of reliability, low maintenance costs, and impressive on-road performance and driving dynamics make EV transition a safe choice for many departments. The cost savings are undeniable and being able to bring Tesla’s entire suite of crash and safety systems to bear on officer safety is an added benefit above and beyond the economics of operating and maintaining this modern EV fleet,” said Sergeant Tony Abdalla.

In an email to MotorTrend, Unplugged Performance didn’t specify the exact specification of the allotment, but did confirm that they would be “non-performance” versions of Tesla’s vehicles. Different variants will be produced, including some with ballistic shielding and protection, vehicles with “prisoner cells” for arrests, as well as specialized K9 units. Obviously the other changes include the addition of various lights and sirens, a graphics package, as well as vehicle protection pieces like a front bull bar.

Unplugged is still committed to its business of modifying Teslas for racing activities as well as privately owned customer cars for street use. Going forward, the tuner plans to become an upfitter for more police departments looking to upgrade their fleet to EVs, and is offering to provide “Tesla specific engineering, manufacturing, upfitting, vehicle sourcing and city/PD sales support to ensure the growth of the segment.” The company confirmed it’s taken delivery of its first Model 3 and Model Y, which have already begun the upfitting process, with a plan for the full 20-vehicle fleet of Teslas for the South Pasadena Police to be delivered by the end of the year.

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