Befitting a country full of supercar-makers, Italy's police are known for driving some very exotic patrol cars. Instead of nondescript sedans, officers sometimes cruise around in Lamborghinis.

However, the latest addition to an Italian police fleet emphasizes efficiency over sex appeal.

Italy's national police, the Carabinieri, recently took delivery of 23 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars, all painted in its snappy blue-and-red livery.

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The plug-in patrol cars will be used in city centers, on islands, and in the zero-emission zone of Expo Milan, an exposition of environmentally-friendly technology that's been running in the city for the past few months.

Crowded urban centers and islands with a limited road distances are logical places for these electric police cars.

Residents will likely appreciate the i-MiEV's near-silent powertrain, and its fairly short EPA-rated range of 62 miles will be less of an issue in a confined area.

i-MiEV Police Vehicle

i-MiEV Police Vehicle

That lack of range and other factors have made the i-MiEV's U.S. sales sluggish.

Just 20 cars were sold in the U.S. last month, for a total of 134 so far this year--or about 4 percent of the sales of the Nissan Leaf just last month alone.

At least the tiny i-MiEV is finding some work with various global police forces.

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Mitsubishi i-MiEV police cars are also used in Hong Kong, Japan, Spain, and the U.K., and they're not the only electric police cars that have been deployed so far.

New York City uses a handful of Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric cars for traffic enforcement, while the similar Vauxhall Ampera is used by British police.

Meanwhile, the Nissan Leaf police cars serve in several police units, including Portugal's Policia Seguranca Publica (PSP).

[hat tip: Graeme Roberts]


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