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GPS blues are going green

In this Following Up feature we talk to Guelph Police Service fleet manager Jim Turow as they prepare to roll out the first of the hybrid utility vehicles in their marked fleet

The Guelph Police Service was the first in Canada to officially commit to replacing its entire marked fleet with hybrid vehicles and that transition has begun with plans to start rolling them out in the second week of April.

“The first two will be canine units and there is going to be a traffic unit and then a uniform unit,” said GPS fleet manager Jim Turow. “It is going to be 32 but I can see the fleet expanding a bit because we are adding all these officers. When the transition is complete, we will be looking at a minimum of 60,000 litres a year in fuel savings.”

GuelphToday first reported on the initiative in June of 2019 when it was announced by Guelph police chief Gord Cobey at a launch event outside Guelph City Hall. Also, in attendance were MPP Mike Schreiner and Mayor Cam Guthrie.

“As the city moves to being carbon net zero by 2050, it’s great to see other organizations make the commitment to reducing emissions,” said Guthrie. “This outside-the-box thinking is so important.”

Turow said the GPS is eager to help Guelph meet its emissions reduction targets.

“We are trying to do our part to coincide with the city’s net zero carbon initiative,” he said. “I am always looking for new ways for the service to be more effective and efficient. Whatever we can do while giving the officers the same or better equipment they need – not just meeting the standard but exceeding the standard.”

The cost of each new 2020 Ford hybrid utility vehicle is $47,000, about $8,000 more than its all-gas equivalent but they are expected to exceed the standard set by their predecessor, the Taurus Interceptor Sedans in a variety of ways. It has a higher safety rating as well as improved torque and horsepower.

“They are a little more money than the gas ones, but we are truly looking at keeping them longer,” said Turow. “There is maintenance savings because the average cruiser gets serviced about 10 times a year, every five or six weeks. We are hoping to cut that down to eight services a year. If you take those two services per vehicle, we are saving a year and run that across 32 to 34 cars, it’s a huge savings.”

They are expected to reduce fuel costs by 40 per cent and CO2 emissions by 750,000 lbs a year after 2023 when all 32 vehicles in the fleet are hybrids.

“We are looking at virtually eliminating idling,” said Turow. “That has always been a big concern from the public. The only time they idle is when the charge in the hybrid battery gets down to a certain level and the gas engine kicks on to charge it back up.”

Turow said the roll out of the new fleet is behind schedule but it will all be worth the wait.

“There was a huge delay with Ford because they had to retool some plants in Chicago for this transition and it took a lot longer,” he said. “We are just now getting our hybrid utilities that were supposed to come last year. They are all going to start rolling out in the second week of April. The ones that were supposed to come in February won’t be here until the summer.”

Turow said they were able to convince Ford to extend the, one-time, police-pricing agreement they negotiated with GPS to the city and the purchase of three similar hybrid vehicles for their bylaw fleet.

“Management here asked Ford about getting an exemption this one time,” he said. “So, Guelph bylaw is rolling out three police package hybrid utilities next month as well. That shows how we are community partners and how we work together.”