At three feet wide and 53" long, the T3 can easily maneuver within confined spaces. (Photo Daniel DiPinto)
FEATURED IN VEHICLE OPS
In the past few issues, I ve profiled some heavy-hitting machines. The tactical vehicles have been big, mean and ready to take the hardest hits. But not all situations call for such powerful vehicles. What do you roll in when even a regular-size patrol vehicle is simply too large to be effective?
Example: I recently rode along with a police agency located on the campus of a large state university. The agency has a small motorcycle detail and a few bicycles, but the majority of patrol work is done in Crown Victorias and Impalas.
During my ride, we made our way across campus. Although the school was out of session and pedestrian traffic was lower than usual, driving an Impala on a sidewalk with flurries of typical iPod-wearing, absentminded college students still made the experience an exercise in pedestrian avoidance performed at a crawl. The vehicle was just too big to be effective and forget about getting anywhere fast in an emergency.
Agencies faced with high pedestrian numbers and narrow roadways need a responsive, appropriately quick patrol vehicle that is smaller than a car, but capable of carrying more than a bicycle. T3 Motion thinks so too. Enter the T3 Personal Mobility Vehicle, or T3, a three-wheeled electric patrol unit that seems to bridge this gap nicely.
On the Move
As the photographs show, the T3 is smaller than a golf cart, but offers the operator a higher point of view. Second, because it s only 53" long, the forward wheel assembly pivots, allowing a zero turning radius.The result: The T3 can literally turn around within its length, something a quad, golf cart or four-wheeled buggy can t do. This feature can be very advantageous in confined spaces, such as stadium tunnels, hallways and sidewalks. In fact, because the T3 is only about three-feet wide, it can be driven on just about any smooth surface without stairs.
This maneuverability has proved highly effective for such agencies as the Los Angeles Valley Security Department, the University of Southern California and others. These agencies use the T3 to cross campuses in ways a traditional patrol vehicle can t. Other agencies, such as the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the Huntington Beach Police Department (Calif.) and the Montgomery (Ala.) Police Department, have also had great success with the T3.
The T3 is electric, which allows it to run green for up to 75 miles using its largest battery option on a single charge. Its typical range is approximately 30 miles. Unlike the traditional golf cart that must be tethered to a charger when it runs out of juice, the T3 uses replaceable power modules that can be hot-swapped in a matter of seconds. It doesn t suffer from the down-time problems that other electric vehicles do, which makes the T3 unique. The power modules weigh only 20 lbs. and can be replaced by officers of any size. According to the company, the T3 runs on the equivalent of approximately $0.10 per day of electricity.
Gas-operated alternatives to the T3 do exist, but one clear tactical advantage inherent to an electric vehicle is that it s quiet. Suspects can t hear you coming as easily.
The T3 s DC motor can also propel the rider at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour, and there are user-selectable speed settings of 5, 8, 10, 12 mph and maximum. These set-and-forget speed settings allow the operator to tailor maximum available speed to the environment. The T3 uses a 15" front wheel and tire setup that s a fat six inches wide, and a pair of rear 17" wheels and tires. This three-wheeled configuration allows for excellent stability. The T3 places most of its weight down low, creating a low center of gravity to increase stability and maneuverability in tight spaces. When it comes time to brake, a pair of rear hydraulic disc brakes handles the duties. It s important to note that all propulsion for the T3 comes from the front wheel, giving the T3 the driving characteristics of a front-wheel-drive car.
Helping the driver in emergency situations are integrated and customer configurable LED emergency lights. A center-mounted, high-intensity LED headlight/spotlight adjusts both vertically and horizontally. The siren has yelp and wail tones.
Another advantage inherent in an electric motor setup is that maximum torque is present at any RPM. This gives the 300-lb. T3 a cargo capacity of 450 lbs., including the operator, which is unusual when you consider that most vehicles can t carry a load greater than their own weight. Pull yes; carry no. T3 Motion offers several cargo configurations for the vehicle beyond the standard locking compartments, and a trailer option is also available for operations that extend beyond normal patrol.
Additional options include onboard video, snow tires, First-Aid Soft Pack, additional power modules and multiple chassis colors.
How It Works
I had the opportunity to play with the T3 at the 2008 IACP conference in San Diego. Granted, I didn t get very far in one, but my initial impressions confirm that the T3 was appropriately selected as the winner of the 2007 INNOVATION award for law enforcement products. Visibility is excellent from the operator s position, and the T3 s ability to turn around on itself makes it supremely maneuverable. The vehicle is also appealing because its size allows officers to have speed and mobility at their fingertips while still allowing for close interaction with the public. Build quality is excellent. The company demonstrated a T3 equipped for crowd control that featured twin-muzzle pepper ball guns and had its EMS model on display as well.
The T3 is slowly finding its way into more and more police agencies. Its cost is dependent on options, but is usually well below $10,000, which makes it competitive with traditional golf carts that range from $5,000 to more than $15,000. Contact T3 Motion for the latest pricing structure.
All told, the T3 Personal Mobility Vehicle is a well thought-out vehicle with unique capabilities and some distinct advantages that warrant a serious look from agencies needing a vehicle smaller than a full-size car and larger than a bicycle.
For more information, contact T3 Motion atwww.t3motion.comor 714/619-3600.