back to article Pro tip: Plug in your Tesla S when clocking off, lest you run out of juice mid hot pursuit

A police chase came to an untimely end this week when the officer in pursuit realised his Tesla S was about to run out of juice. Cops were chasing a suspect vehicle through the South Bay of San Francisco. The officer radioed for another vehicle to take over and embarrassingly the audio was picked up by police scanner site. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where is the Duracell bunny when we need him?

    1. Zarno

      Hop to it

      Hey, hey, that's the Energizer Bunny you wise guy!

      Don't make me send out the Eveready 9V cat!

      (Always loved that there were two battery powered bunnies out there...)

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Hop to it

        Ah yes, the rampant rabbit

        1. Zarno

          Re: Hop to it

          There's also a VERY off colour joke about reversing the polarity of the poor creatures battery...

  2. Sureo

    This is the unfortunate weakness of battery operated devices.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Yes, because when in hot pursuit of Mr Baddie and you run out of petrol because someone forgot to fill it up the shift before, Mr Baddie will just pull over while you fill it up.

      1. Alan Johnson

        "Yes, because when in hot pursuit of Mr Baddie and you run out of petrol because someone forgot to fill it up the shift before, Mr Baddie will just pull over while you fill it up.

        The difference is that if you notice at teh start of your shift that the petrol is low you can quite practically fill it up. If you notice the charge is low you need to put it on charge and get a different vehicle.

        The 'study' if we can call it that which compares the Tesla to a standard Ford Explorer seems flawed and perhaps corrupt/fixed from the start. The vehicles are simply not comparable and for many purposes the explorer seems massively superior in terms of capabilities. Perhaps only in highway pursuit does the Tesla have an advantage but that cannot be the primary/intended role of the Explorer. It seems like a fix or perhaps just a publicity stunt. Even in this role it seems that the Tesla simply does not meet the needs. It has an offical range of 370 miles if the role involved crusing on the highway it simply does not have the range to do this for long enough especialy keeping some sort of margin and recharging takes too long ulike a conventional vehcle with which refueling would be practical.

        1. jake Silver badge

          "Perhaps only in highway pursuit does the Tesla have an advantage"

          Probably not, given the traffic in and around Fremont. Also, the Explorer is a taller seat, allowing you to see traffic ahead of you over the top of other cars. For another thing, it has a higher ground clearance, allowing you to go around stopped traffic in the verge/brush/tules and generally go over curbs and other hazards that would trip up a Tesla. To say nothing of the emergency equipment that an SUV can carry with easy accessibility.

        2. jake Silver badge

          I don't know if it's corrupt or fixed, but it very definitely is nothing more than a stunt.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      It's not the running down that's the trouble. The article points that out. It's the time to refuel.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        I see the difference, but does it really matter in this very specific situation? If you can't move for the five minutes or so it takes to refuel a traditional vehicle, the person you're chasing probably has gained quite a lead. So you'd still have to contact someone else to chase them while you refueled. For many other situations where speed is important but not critical, the gas engine's ability to refuel faster could be an important factor.

        1. veti Silver badge

          No-one is proposing breaking off mid-pursuit.

          But if you get into a petrol-powered vehicle at the start of your shift and see that it's less than a quarter full, you can take five minutes to fill up then. Then you're ready for what comes later. In a Tesla, you don't have that option.

          1. eldakka

            How about requisitioning another vehicle from the motor pool and using that until the Tesla charges?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Your local cops have enough money to run two cars per driver?

              1. Adrian Harvey

                Not per driver, perhaps, but one “hot spare” in the pool wouldn’t be beyond reason. It’s not unlikely that one would be needed to cover mechanical issues, crash repair time, service intervals, etc.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  "one “hot spare” in the pool wouldn’t be beyond reason"

                  Or so you'd think, but ... The folks in charge of the purse strings won't allow even N+1 ... when a car is down, that officer is usually "assigned other duties" until the car is back up. Having a car "sitting on the shelf" is absolutely unthinkable these days. Think of the wasted insurance and maintenance money on an unused vehicle that also cost money ...

                  Besides, typically one gas/petrol car runs two shifts, with two separate drivers. With the battery powered option, it's one car per driver because of charge time, doubling the size of the fleet for the same coverage. Again, the bean-counters don't like this option very much.

            2. Lee D Silver badge

              How many pool car spares would you need for electric cars versus the same for petrol cars?

              I'm guessing, in this kind of instance, a lot more, thus killing the savings you would otherwise gain.

              Especially as police vehicles are often used 24 hours a day, over different shifts.

              You've gone from, say, 10 petrol cars taking 10 minutes to refill throughout the day, to 30 electric cars where maybe 2/3rds of the fleet are out of action at any one time to charge.

              1. eldakka

                > How many pool car spares would you need for electric cars versus the same for petrol cars?


                The instant case wasn't a case of the entire police fleet having been converted to PEV, therefore in the case for this story, that isn't relevant.

                However, if (when?) that becomes the case, then yes, it will be more difficult, as you could expect 4-8 hours (depending on vehicle range and how hard it has been run) downtime a day, which would dramatically increase the number of 'hot spare' vehicles. But could the reduction in running costs of PEVs vs ICE allow them to afford to have more hot spares? Maybe, maybe not. I just hope they sort this issue out before they make a decision on whether to convert to a full PEV fleet.

            3. 2Nick3

              They only have the one Tesla - the article indicates it is the first EV in the fleet. So there is no spare. If they have to have their one and only EV out on patrol (say for political reasons), noticing that it wasn't charged at the beginning of the shift simply means the shift will be shorter than expected.

              It's a learning curve switching from IC power to EVs, especially for managing a fleet.

        2. juice

          > I see the difference, but does it really matter in this very specific situation? If you can't move for the five minutes or so it takes to refuel a traditional vehicle, the person you're chasing probably has gained quite a lead.

          You'd hope that part of the standard pre-patrol checklist would be to check the fuel levels!

          The thing is that it's (currently at least) much quicker and easier to refill an ICE fuel tank, and it gives you much greater range, so there's far less risk of running out mid-pursuit.

          Equally, if you are out on patrol, it's one thing to take 5 minutes to refill your fuel tank[*], and another to sit plugged into a charger for half an hour. Assuming you can find one which is compatible, and which doesn't already have someone else's car plugged into it!

          At a glance, the Ford Explorer has an 18 (US) gallon fuel tank which is good for around 500 miles, versus 300 miles or so for the Tesla.

          Equally, it'd be interesting to see how their ranges compare when in pursuit mode too - i.e. high speed maneuvers and/or lots of stops/starts/brake slamming. That kind of stuff has a nasty impact on range for both ICE and electric vehicles, though as per above, at least an ICE vehicle will generally have a much larger reserve to burn through.

          [*] US fuel pumps are limited to 10 gallons a minute. So it's quite feasible for a police car to be in and out in under five minutes, even if they do dally to pick up coffee and donuts...

          Then too, it looks like Teslsa have actually banned "government" use of their public supercharging network, though the actual article is paywalled, so it's not clear if that covers the emergency services...

          1. jake Silver badge

            "the Ford Explorer has an 18 (US) gallon fuel tank"

            Because of the distances involved here Out West[0], many (most?) jurisdictions equip their patrol vehicles with extended range tanks. I don't know if Fremont does or not (it's only 75 square miles or so), but given the gridlock they experience twice a day, 5 days a week (+occasional weekends), it wouldn't surprise me.

            [0] Wherever that is ...

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      > This is the unfortunate weakness of battery operated devices.

      Which is why I insist all my tools have cords. I'm tired of reaching for a drill or saw and the battery's dead.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Personally ...

        ... I find the convenience of cordless fools makes spending money on several batteries and matching chargers worth it. It helps if you standardize on one of the major vendors, so all batteries fit every tool. Some of the tools are actually more powerful than their corded counterparts, which doesn't hurt any. (Example: The Makita 36V 7 1/4" worm-drive saw is much faster ripping plywood than my Skilsaw model 77 ... I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't prove it to myself. The Mag77 is pretty much retired now).

        That said, somehow I seriously doubt anybody is going to have a Tesla and a couple of spare batteries for long distance trips any time soon. What are they going to do, carry them around on a trailer?

        1. Tom 38

          Re: Personally ...

          I find the convenience of cordless fools makes spending money on several batteries and matching chargers worth it.

          Unintentional hilarious typo, or Freudian slip?

          (I also like power tools that all use the same battery, makes things a cinch and the tools cheaper)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Personally ...

            Typoes R us. Mea culpa. This round's on me :-)

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        I'm tired of reaching for a drill or saw and the battery's dead.

        And, worse, that you've left them unused for so long that the battery has dropped below its safe to recharge threshold, won't recharge, isn't even safe to recharge.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Operator error.

          A poor craftsman blames his tools.

      3. Captain Scarlet

        Me I was cutting through some wood with a jigsaw and it just stopped, only to realise I had cut through the cable.

        I have also mowed a cable for a Flymo.

    4. ricegf

      It's actually a strength of battery operated vehicles: They are fully refueled at start of shift, so officers never needed to visit a petrol pump - IF the vehicle is connected to the mains while at the station house. But as the article briefly notes, ignoring fuel levels never ends well regardless of whether you store the energy as petrol, diesel, electrons, hydrogen, or a wound-up rubber band.

  3. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Mad Max would have never run out of ga-

    Never mind.

  4. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    Due To Police Incompetence

    They dropped all charges.

    1. seven of five

      Re: Due To Police Incompetence

      Orly? Watt was the issue?

    2. Stoneshop

      Re: Due To Police Incompetence

      Well, the baddies didn't even have to resist arrest, as the plod didn't have the capacity for pursuit.

    3. Steve K

      Re: Due To Police Incompetence

      Are you positive?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Due To Police Incompetence

      They got off with battery.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Due To Police Incompetence

      It used to be only the cop's feet that were flat.

    6. Criggie

      Re: Due To Police Incompetence

      "Due to Police Impedence" FTFY

      1. seven of five

        Re: Due To Police Incompetence

        Ohm y god!

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: Due To Police Incompetence

          I can't resist that pun...

    7. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Due To Police Incompetence

      With puns like that, Joule get what's coming to you

      1. Chris G

        Re: Due To Police Incompetence

        Not enough juice to go Ohm.

    8. Tom 38

      Re: Due To Police Incompetence

      Resistance is futile.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Due To Police Incompetence

        Y'all are just wired... err... weird.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Due To Police Incompetence

      Lots of inductive reasoning as to watt impeded the cops here.

    10. PBXTech

      Re: Due To Police Incompetence

      I am really enjoying the current run of electrical puns....

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Due To Police Incompetence

        The capacitance for puns is rather high around here ... they bridge the gap at the junction between politics and technology, improve the signal to noise ratio, and keep us all well grounded with less of a chance of blowing a fuse.

  5. disgruntled yank


    What would Steve McQueen say?

    1. psychonaut

      Re: Damn

      Not much seeing as he is deader than a Tesla pursuit battery

  6. Archivist

    This is the unfortunate weakness of battery operated devices.

    Of course fossil fuel devices never run out.

    1. timrowledge

      Re: This is the unfortunate weakness of battery operated devices.

      Obviously not - why, if you google for things like “police car runs out of gas” you get no hits at.... oh, wait. One day people will find something else to whine about, eh?

  7. Nifty Silver badge

    What kind of CB radio is fitted to a police Tesla, so that calls can be overheard?

    1. NotBob

      CB radio scanners have been available for quite a long time. Police don't generally use CB, but many emergency service dispatch systems are operated off of publicly registered radio frequencies that can be picked up by commercially available scanners. This is nothing new nor unexpected.

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Re: "... commercially available scanners. This is nothing new nor unexpected."

        indeed. I sold such devices at Radio Shack in the early 1980's

      2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        "CB radio scanners"

        Not CB radio. We (on this side of the pond) have available VHF/UHF analog/digital trunked radio scanners. And not many police departments encrypt their traffic (it decreases their comms reliability). Even an SDR dongle and some clever software will get you a good bit of the way there.

        There are some streaming audio web sites that rebroadcast police and fire radio traffic. So you don't even need to invest in a radio.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          It used to be possible to listen to UK police radio on an ordinary FM broadcast receiver many years ago. They seemed to be using some kind of half duplex system where you could hear half a conversation from one side and regular beeps when that side was receiving.

          1. Jess--

            used to be duplexed with the base station operating around 451-453 Mhz and mobiles operating 13.9 Mhz higher (so if you hear the base on 452.8 the mobiles were on 466.7).

            then they added a pitch inversion system (low audio frequencies become high and vice versa) which was referred to as Crypton.

            then they switched to tetra and I gave up listening

      3. Nifty Silver badge

        Clearly no one spotted the irony bit I thought a joke icon would've spoiled it with obviousness.

        Was anyone able to get my real point that something with the technological prowess of a Tesla was apparently fitted with a radio transceiver that could be easily overheard? I'm thinking, maybe the police were even using analogue radio tech here.

  8. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    This wouldn't have happened

    if they'd opted for that Mr. Fusion upgrade Doc Brown (icon) recommended

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: This wouldn't have happened

      +1 isn't enough, so have one of these!

  9. Johnny Canuck

    Here n the Great White North we have a different problem.

  10. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    That Tesla pictured ...

    ... wouldn't make an ideal pursuit vehicle anyway. No cop wheels (high profile sidewall tires on steel wheels so you don't have to give up a chase after hitting a curb or pothole).

  11. jake Silver badge

    Fremont is not today ...

    ... and never has been San Francisco. They are not even in the same county. They are not even on the same side of the Bay. It is roughly the equivalent (distance and direction and across the water) as calling Eynsford the same as The City of London.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Fremont is not today ...

      As a former resident of the East Bay Area, it is often much easier to tell people the name of the nearest big city rather than my own Walnut Creek. Even Bay Area gets blank looks. At least Fremont is close to the water.

      1. Stoneshop

        Re: Fremont is not today ...

        it is often much easier to tell people the name of the nearest big city rather than my own Walnut Creek.

        Ah, where they made those shareware collection CDs. At least if it's the Walnut Creek out of the probably dozens of Walnut Creeks across the US where they made those CD's.

        Still wouldn't have known where it actually was, that is until you mentioned its location just now.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Fremont is not today ...

          Yes, Walnut Creek CDROM was based in Walnut Creek, California.

          I used those CDs to lend an air of legitimacy to my early consultancy ... Just having FreeBSD or Slackware on an actual published CD often was enough in the eyes of the owner to let me move a business from MS-DOS (with or without Windows) over to *nix. Most of those businesses (the survivors, anyway) still run on FOSS ...

          If you missed "those CDs" back in the day, or if you just want a trip down memory lane (or to have a look at what your parents are talking about), you can download many Walnut Creek CDROM ISO images from here.

          For those of you who don't click on links:

    2. Chris G

      Re: Fremont is not today ...

      The Plough at Eynsford was the best place for a pub Sunday lunch and a walk/sit by the river afterwards. Nowhere within twenty miles as good.

      Used to go there after a morning shooting at Seal rifle range.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Charges

    Couldn't they radio ahead and ask Elon nicely to apply the "remove capacity limit" patch for snowstorms etc?

  13. Delbert

    Apples and oranges

    Interesting choice of comparison vehicles on the one hand an electric sedan 'cruiser' on the other a relatively large SUV which no doubt carries a lot of equipment to deal with traffic incidents. Which would fare better in one of those PIT manoeuvres do you think and hopefully not set on fire.

    1. timrowledge

      Re: Apples and oranges

      You’re aware of the statistics about vehicle fires, right? Several hundred fossil fuel vehicles catch fire every day in just the US. Ask BMW about their carefully covered up petrol fires in cars parked for several days, for one example involving modern designs.

  14. Natalie Gritpants Jr

    Is that picture real

    Very disturbing that they fit a kiddy-killer on the front. It thought it was serve and protect, not swerve and maim.

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: Is that picture real

      That's a standard (in most of the US, anyway) police "push bumper" designed to gently push a stalled vehicle out of the traffic lanes (over to the road shoulder, etc) while causing little or no damage to either vehicle. The taller pieces in the center are because car/SUV/pickup truck bumpers tend to be a variety of heights.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Is that picture real

      I think you calling it a kiddie killer says more about how you have been brainwashed than it does about the cop car.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Corner case

    Police cars have radios. Only in the rarest circumstances will it be absolutely necessary for the same, single car to maintain the pursuit for more than 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, they're doing it wrong.

    1. Francis Boyle

      According to the report I read

      there were backup vehicles in the chase which could have taken over when the lead reported they were dropping out but the controller nixed the chase at that point for safety reasons (not after as this article has it0.

  16. JoMe

    But she pointed out that the same thing happens occasionally when petrol-powered

    We see the same stupidity with computers. English lit majors, when faced with screens saying "press any key to continue" suddenly become neanderthals who can't figure out how to read or press buttons. Freaking engineers, who can design and manufacture marvels of innovation, can't figure out where to put their USB stick; or worse how to click on a screen that says "Click here to proceed".

    I mean, come on this is simple stuff. Car no fuel, car no go. Regardless of whether it's electricity or gas, the same holds true. Even the most doughnut-crazed cop should be able to figure that out; and given that these cars go as far as - if not more - than their equivalent in gas, surely this is a no brainer?

  17. adam 40 Silver badge

    This story reminds me

    Of the police in Guyana, followed some bank robbers and surrounded them in a sugar cane field.

    A shootout followed....

    Then after a while the police had to go home - because they ran out of ammo!

    1. James O'Shea

      Re: This story reminds me

      That wouldn't have happened in Jamaica. Regular patrol cops would be two to a vehicle, each with a 9-mm semi-auto pistol of some type (there are a variety in service, ranging from Browning Hi-Powers to SIGs and S&Ws) and there'd be a rifle in the cop car, usually a variety of AR-15. Specialised cops, such as flying squad, crime eradication squad, and the like usually travel four to a car, each with two semi-auto pistols and either a submachine gun (Uzi or Colt Commando, the SMG version of the AR-15, usually; some unlucky blokes are still stuck with Sterlings) or a rifle, again usually an AR-15, each. Standard operational procedure for the special cops has been since the early 1970s to empty one weapons' mag at the target, get out another weapon, empty that mag, repeat until out of weapons, reload, start again. Claudius Massop, for example, was shot 42 times 'resisting arrest'. If the Mobile Reserve rolls on the incident, then there'll be cops with Barret 0.50 rifles and GPMGs. If necessary they'll call for support from the army, and one or more armoured car with a 0.50 MG or a 40-mm grenade launcher will show up. On one spectacular case an Army helicopter showed, was shot at by the bad guys, went back to base and got a few machine guns and came back and did some close air support. (No, I'm not making that up. It happened about 15 years ago in Rose Hall, just outside of Montego Bay. A joint police-army force in company strength ran into problems and solved them with an air strike...) Police in Jamaica get away with things that American cops can only dream of.

      See for more. The pic at the top is of Mobile Reserve policemen carrying AR-15s.

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