September 20, 2020

How a North Carolina teen helped sell California police department’s unwanted fleet of electric cars

A high school senior in North Carolina unintentionally helped an Alhambra auto dealership offload more than two dozen BMW i3s returned by the Los Angeles Police Department after he wrote a blog post drawing attention to the inventory’s unusually low mileage

Andrew Lambrecht, who runs The Current Review, a electric car-focused blog he launched in July, said he is particularly passionate about his favorite vehicle, the i3.

While scrolling through used car listings, the 17-year-old came across a slew of black-and-white 2017 i3s with the same specifications for sale in Southern California.

“They all had the same trim,” he said. “They were all government-owned, all of them.”

LAPD ordered 300 BMW i3s

Lambrecht recalled reading about BMW winning a bid to supply the LAPD with 300 BMW i3s over a three-year period. He dug a little deeper and noticed the dealership selling the certified preowned i3s also provided the leases.

So, he wrote a post: “Here’s where LAPD’s BMW i3 Fleet Is Now.”

The teen’s story got picked up by BMW and electric vehicle news sites, including Bimmer Life Magazine and Jalopnik. Within days of the post, the BMWs were all sold off, according to Jay Kong, a sales manager at New Century BMW in Alhambra.

“The articles just blew up and a lot of people didn’t really know about these cars until the articles came out,” Kong said. “It’s a good deal for the price. Some were really low miles.”

Garcetti touted electric vehicles

Mayor Eric Garcetti and then-Chief Charles Beck touted the leases as a commitment to sustainability in 2016. The mayor’s plan called for the LAPD to lease 100 battery electric vehicles each year for five years to replace the department’s older, gas-powered nonemergency fleet. Los Angeles leased the first 100 i3s in June 2016 and another 100 in September 2017.

However, the city’s limited charging infrastructure, combined with the earlier i3’s low range of about 81 miles, made using the vehicles impractical. The LAPD has leased 235 BMW i3s as of 2019 and delayed leasing more because of the low utilization attributed to a lack of charging stations, according to a 2020-21 budget request.

Three years into their use, the BMWs had an average odometer reading of 8,418 in 2019. One vehicle had racked up only 3,200 miles total. All of its 2016 models were replaced with 2019 versions last year, causing the average reading to drop to 7,776. One of the newer leases had only been driven about 250 miles as of June 2020.

Many cars barely used

A CBS LA investigation in 2018 found many of the vehicles were barely used. Hidden cameras showed employees using a BMW to pick up lunch and another for a trip to a nail salon. The department estimated they’ll spend about $10.5 million total on the program, according to CBS LA.

The LAPD pays about $440 monthly per lease now, with the total cost just shy of $1.6 million a year, including extra funds for maintaining battery chargers, according to the department’s 2020-21 budget request. The city initially spent …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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