CWU News

CWU Police Expect Tesla Patrol Car to Save on Fuel, Maintenance, and Emissions

CWU Police Services' new Tesla patrol car

The Central Washington University Police Department is helping the institution meet its sustainability goals by adding an energy-efficient Tesla to its fleet of patrol cars.

The new electric vehicle will join rotation of CWU police vehicles this month and will be used to patrol campus in place of a recently retired Ford Explorer. Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order in November, stating that the state’s pool of roughly 5,000 vehicles will begin the transition to becoming fully electric by 2040.

CWU Police Chief Jason Berthon-Koch said the new Tesla will contribute to the state’s environmental goals, as well as the university’s sustainability efforts. He also expects the car to make a long-term difference in Central’s vehicle maintenance budget. 

“We’re the first higher education institution police department in the state to invest in this technology, and that shows that we are leading the way with regard to sustainability,” Berthon-Koch said, adding that the cost of a fully outfitted Tesla was about $7,000 more than a patrol-ready, gas-powered vehicle.

Interior of CWU Police Service's newly outfitted patrol car

The department expects the return on investment to far exceed the additional up-front costs required to purchase the high-end electric vehicle. Berthon-Koch said CWU will save thousands of dollars on fuel over the car’s lifespan, not to mention thousands more on maintenance costs sinceelectric vehicles don’t require as much upkeep as gasoline-powered cars. 

“It cost a little more up front, but over time, we will save about $18,000,” he said. “When you consider the environmental benefits, we know this car is going to be a great investment for CWU.

In addition, the Tesla will help the university achieve its goal of producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions because the car uses electrical power instead of petroleum. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, electriFueling up CWU Police's new fully-electric patrol carc and hybrid cars produce one-third to one-half of the carbon emissions as their gasoline-powered counterparts.

CWU Sustainability Coordinator Kathleen Klaniecki said the university now has nine electric and 12 hybrid vehicles, improving the fleet’s average miles per gallon — and, in turn, lowering the rate of carbon emissions. She also pointed to the fact that electricity in Ellensburg produces relatively low carbon emissions, with 96% of the electrical power being produced by hydroelectric dams. 

“CWU is committed to driving down our greenhouse gas emissions, and adding more electric cars to our fleet is only going to help us reach our goals,” Klaniecki said, noting that CWU is gradually reducing the number of gas-powered vehicles on campus, independent of the governor’s order. “This car is just one of the many steps we have taken in recent years.”

 Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1518.