While not quite as funny as putting policemen on Segway scooters, the decision by the Kanagawa police department to introduce a battery electric Mitsuibishi i MiEV to their fleet must have still been met with some degree of mirth by Kanagawa's finest. After all, with a top speed of just 130kph and a maximum range of 160km the i MiEV is not exactly suited to chasing down bad guys, while that cutesy bulbous shape would probably strike criminals down with laughter, rather than fear.
Sensibly then, the i MiEV police car will be used for lighter duties and administrative shuttling rather than highway pursuits. The Kanagawa police will use the car until March of next year, while Mitsubishi will regularly collect data from it to use in the development of future all-electric vehicles.
Considering the sheer number of vehicles used by government departments such as the police, converting a proportion of these fleets to cars that run on a greener (and cheaper) fuel source such as electricity would produce the double benefit of a reduction of fossil fuel consumption as well as a decrease in the spending of taxpayer money on petrol.
While a similar scheme may not work so well in Australia, it certainly makes sense in the dense suburbs and crowded cities of Japan, and we wouldn't be surprised if more metropolitan police departments began adopting zero-emission vehicles in the near future. By my calculations, Indian policemen will be rolling around in air-powered Tatas before the year is out.