WATCH: Hampshire police convert fleet to electric cars in cash-saving bid

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THOUSANDS of pounds are set to be saved as police staff and detectives pick up the keys to a new fleet of electric cars.

Hampshire police, who say fuelling the cars will cost around a quarter of how much it costs for petrol cars, is the first non-metropolitan force to make the switch in a bid to cut emissions and save £450,000 over a three-year period.

Insp Andy Tester with the new electric BMW i3 car fleet for Hampshire police. Picture: Hampshire police''From: <melanie.adams@hampshire.pnn.police.uk>

Insp Andy Tester with the new electric BMW i3 car fleet for Hampshire police. Picture: Hampshire police''From: <melanie.adams@hampshire.pnn.police.uk>

Petrol engine marked response cars will stay in use but investigators and police staff will use the new BMW i3 fleet. The vehicles can do 120 miles from one charge and an extra 60 miles via a small reserve petrol tank.

Police say these investigators and staff usually make journeys below 100 miles so the BMWs can be charged overnight.

Inspector Andy Tester, who developed the plan and has seen 40 electric cars brought in so far, said: ‘We’re confident people are going to be able to carry out their journeys as normal with a safety net of having a back up engine.

‘There’s very little risk here, this is a pioneering way for Hampshire Constabulary to save money, provide some really good fit-for-purpose vehicles for our staff, and also to be really good for the environment at the same time – it’s win-win.’

Diesel vehicles reaching the end of their life are being replaced with electric.

The cash-strapped force is under pressure to slash around £25m off its budget in the next four years – and has already had to axe its force support unit, reduce its dog unit and other specialist teams.

Insp Tester said the cars were bought at a ‘significant reduction’ partly with a £4,500 per car government grant.

Police can sell them after three years, keeping a good resale value.

Some of the savings will be spent on electric charging points at Portsmouth, Southampton and Basingstoke stations.

The cars will cost £1 per day for fuel, compared to £3.50 for petrol. They could save 64,000kg of CO2 emissions a year.

Insp Tester added: ‘That type of saving, when every force across the country is looking to cut costs, is almost impossible to argue against, especially when you look at the environmental benefits too.’

There are around 220 pool and investigation branch cars, with the force saying half will remain conventional and half switched to electric in the future.

Chief constable Olivia Pinkney said: ‘These cars save public money, are proving popular with our teams, and are kinder to the environment.’