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by Peter Moskos

September 1, 2009

Cost of a Car?

I've always wondered and never been able to figure out exactly how much police cars cost to operate. Somebody in motor-pool must know, but nobody has told me.

Here's an article in the New York Times about a fleet for OTB. No doubt cheaper than cop cars. The vehicles cost an average of $6,700 each per year. They have 87 vehicles. And no doubt they're cheaper to run since 1) they're not being used much (that's the point of the article), and 2) they're not cop cars.
It has employed three automotive mechanics, seven drivers and a motor vehicle supervisor, who, combined, earned $500,000 a year. In addition to those salaries, the state comptroller found that gas, insurance and outside repairs cost $585,000 a year.
By my calculations that's $12,471 per car per year. Anybody out there know more than me?

In my Policing Green concept, I propose that cops would walk foot for an extra $20 to $50 a shift, with that money coming from gas not burned. Maybe I'm thinking too low.


BG said...

I'm really experienced in running fleet programs. Gas alone makes up a small portion of your costs. Don't forget the depreciation of the vehicle (purchase price - sales price), its probably the single biggest expense. Your holding cost calculation would be depreciation + interest + insurance. You might decide to factor in gas and maintenance, but these are variable with the amount of driving. If your average mileage doesn't change much, then go ahead and add those in. If you gave me more information, like vehicle type and average mileage I could probably give you a reasonable cost. Its still all guess work since depreciation can vary so much, but I bet I get close.

PCM said...

Depreciation. Oh yeah.... But in the above example, everything except depreciation costs over $12 grand/year. Wouldn't that outweigh depreciation if you can run a car for 5 - 7 years?

I would love to know that a city pays for insurance on its fleet. And also the fixed expensive in terms of repairs and support staff (mechanics and others at motorpool).

And gas would be for cop cars running all day every day? $50 a day is what I'm figure ($18G/year), but maybe that's way off.

I guess what I'm looking for isn't a specific figure for any specific agency, but rather a general cost of, say, maintaining 100 police cars. Perhaps a mix between Crown Vics, Impalas, and Chargers. 60 miles a day (but with horrible mileage and much AC-on-high idling)?

Feel free to comment here or email me at mail@petermoskos.com