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This police department is switching to Tesla SUVs — and Elon Musk is pleased

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk introduces the "falcon wing" door on the Model X electric sports-utility vehicle during a presentation in Fremont, California, on September 29, 2015.
Stephen Lam | Reuters

Tesla may soon be synonymous with law enforcement in one region of Switzerland where police just ordered several Tesla Model X P100D electric SUVs for its fleet of cop cars.

Police in the canton of Basel-Stadt announced in March that they will replace diesel vehicles in their fleet with the Model X SUVs, which Tesla's called "the safest, quickest, most capable SUV ever." In its announcement, the local police force noted the decision was made with economic and environmental results in mind, while adding that the Model X also offers "plenty of storage space as well as very good handling characteristics."

"The planned replacement of diesel combined vehicles with the Tesla Model X-100D brings several advantages in terms of economic efficiency, practicality and ecology," the Basel-Stadt police said in their announcement.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is on board with the move, of course.

"Swiss police are smart. . . . the bad guys will def not escape," the tech billionaire tweeted in response to an article about the move.

The website Electrek previously reported the news, noting that the Basel-Stadt police placed an initial order for seven Model X SUVs for 2018, with more expected to be delivered sometime next year.

The Basel-Stadt police also said that cheaper operating and maintenance costs for the Tesla Model X will make up for the initial cost disparity between the electric vehicles and the diesel cars already in the fleet. The diesel vehicles cost the force 97,000 Swiss francs (roughly $100,693) per vehicle on average compared to 140,000 Swiss francs (about $152,597) for each Model X, they said.

The police noted that the Teslas have a range of over 465 kilometers (up to 289 miles) on a full charge, while the force's current fleet of diesel vehicles covers an average of 200 kilometers (124 miles) per day. That means the electric vehicles should have no problem making it through a full day of police work without needing to recharge. (There are also plans to install two charging stations in the area.)

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The move has been met with some criticism, though. Councilor Felix Wehrli, a detective at the Criminal Investigation Department, told Swiss newspaper BZ Basel: "It is incomprehensible that almost one million francs [roughly $1 million] are being purchased for vehicles that have not yet been tested in everyday police life."

But as Elon Musk himself says, anything innovative comes with risk.

The Basel-Stadt police would not be the first law enforcement group to consider adding Teslas to their fleet. The Los Angeles Police Department previously tested the idea of adding Tesla Model S sedans to its fleet, while the Denver Police Department actually did convert a Model S into a police car for community outreach events (but not for daily patrols).

Meanwhile, earlier this year, a Canadian police division in Ontario also outfitted a Tesla Model X as a police car for the Canadian International Auto Show as part of a display the group called "the future of policing."

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Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk introduces the "falcon wing" door on the Model X electric sports-utility vehicle during a presentation in Fremont, California, on September 29, 2015.
Stephen Lam | Reuters
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