PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – This Tesla is not a typical sheriff’s vehicle, but on Wednesday Allegheny County Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin Kraus took KDKA money editor Jon Delano out for a spin in a car his department is testing all week.

Delano: “What is the sheriff’s department doing with a Tesla?”
Kraus: “Well, simply, we’re just exploring to see what benefit or value it could have to the office.”

The sheriff has 64 gasoline-run vehicles and one hybrid natural gas vehicle, but no electric vehicles like a Tesla.

So Tesla has loaned the sheriff a vehicle for the week.

“We’re rotating it through the different divisions of our office, different drivers on a daily basis, and we’re just getting feedback,” said Kraus.

“We’re trying to determine if a vehicle like this would be valuable to the sheriff’s office.”

Kraus says deputies have liked it — its computer monitor, its handling, almost silent engine, quick acceleration and safety features.

“When you take your foot off the accelerator, it immediately starts to brake on its own before you even get over to the brake pedal.”

One concern: running out of power at critical moments — like during a chase.

That happened to the Fremont, California police.

“That would probably be the biggest challenge in a vehicle like this. When it’s fully charged, we get about 320 miles,” said Kraus.

Running out of electricity is like running out of gas. Don’t blame the car.

But there is the cost — $47,000 versus $36,000 for current vehicles.

Still, without gasoline, says Kraus, “The cost savings in this vehicle would be about $17,000 over five years.”

Now again, the sheriff has made absolutely no decision on whether to add a Tesla to his fleet of vehicles.

If and when a decision is made, it won’t happen until 2020.