"I am down to six miles of battery on the Tesla so I may lose it here in a sec."
That's what Jesse Hartman, an officer with the Fremont Police Department in the San Francisco Bay Area, said before he was forced to yield to other police vehicles involved in a high-speed pursuit last week, the East Bay Times reported on Tuesday.
The pursuit happened on Interstate 680 near Milpitas, the newspaper said.
"If someone else is able, can they maneuver into the number one spot?" Hartman asked his fellow officers as they chased a "felony vehicle" at speeds up to 120 mph, according to the East Bay Times.
His 2014 Model S was quickly running out of battery.
"The Tesla wasn't fully charged at the beginning of the shift," a department representative told CBS San Francisco. "This unfortunately happens from time to time even in our vehicles that run on gas, if they aren't re-fueled at the end of a shift."
The Fremont Police Department got the electric cruiser in March as part of a pilot program that already included a Toyota Prius and a Ford Fusion Hybrid. The department said the car "appears to meet patrol performance requirements" and came with financial and environmental benefits (it's expected to save it tens of thousands of dollars in fuel charges over five years) but warned of the one-hour charging time between shifts.
US police departments have a long history with electric vehicles. As Quartz pointed out, the very first police car was an electric 4-horsepower "paddy wagon" in Akron, Ohio, in 1899. But innovations to the internal combustion engine — and a need for speed — fueled a switch to gas-powered cruisers.
Despite the Tesla's battery-level struggles, the Fremont police eventually found the suspect's vehicle after it crashed into some bushes, the East Bay Times reported.
"We are easily able to make it through an 11-hour shift with battery power to spare," the Fremont police captain told the newspaper, adding that the Tesla usually had 40% to 50% battery remaining at the end of a shift.