Dodge 'Charges' the Police Vehicle Market
Chrysler has made significant strides in the police fleet market in recent years with its Dodge Charger police vehicle. The company's U.S. market share grew to 18 percent by 2008, up from 14 percent one year prior.
The Charger offers aggressive looks, faster acceleration, and better handling than older models, according to the manufacturer.
At the beginning of the Charger's development, specific law enforcement vehicle features and functionality standards were integrated into the design to allow easier installation of aftermarket upfits and additions.
Added safety features including all-speed traction control system (TCS), electronic stability program (ESP) with brake assist, and a four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system (ABS) aid directional stability and control, even when driving over uneven surfaces such as patchy snow, ice, gravel, or severely wet roads.
"We tried to create the ideal police vehicle for law enforcement departments to give our police customers an affordable, capable vehicle with industry-leading innovations," said Tricia Llewellyn, Midwest government & alternative fuel sales manager - Chrysler Group. "In addition, with rear-wheel drive and ESP control, the Dodge Charger police vehicle provides optimum police car pursuit performance."
The Charger was designed with police-specific features, such as greater stability and improved handling through a unique design, performance-tuned steering and suspension, and a convenient shifter and center console area.
The Charger offers a fuel economy rating of 16 mpg city/25 highway. A new HEMI engine, added in 2009, achieves up to 20-percent better fuel economy, according to Chrysler. The fuel economy savings are made possible with the multi-displacement system (MDS) technology, which deactivates four of the right cylinders when less power is needed while cruising.
Carbon Motors Officially Enters the Market
Carbon Motors was formed in 2003 as a police cruiser manufacturer to compete with other law enforcement cars built from existing civilian vehicles and saddled with the accompanying compromises. The Connersville, Ind.-based company plans to spend $350 million updating a 1.8-million square-foot facility for its purposes.
Carbon's car is currently known as the E7. The company plans to develop a more descriptive name in the coming year. Production is expected to begin in 2012.
The diesel-powered E7 is expected to be built in Indiana. Due to the diesel power, the vehicle offers 40-percent better fuel economy than a standard police vehicle, Carbon Motors claimed. The E7 will also accelerate from 0-60 mph in six seconds, with a lifespan of nearly three times that of standard patrol vehicles.
An even more appealing advantage is the E7's ability to shrug off bullets. Door and dashboard ballistic protection deflects up to National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Level III threats, which includes high-powered rifles, 7.62mm full-metal jacketed (FMJ) bullets, .223 Remington, .30 Carbine FMJ, and 12-gauge rifled slug, as well as Level I through IIIA threats (Here's the complete NIJ list). Law enforcement officers can also trace shooters through infrared cameras that cut through the dark of night.
According to Carbon Motors, the E7 is engineered to last 250,000 miles for extreme durability with a top end speed of 155 mph.
Carbon Motors announced an agreement in late March that BMW will supply Carbon Motor's upcoming police cruiser with an engine similar to BMW's 3.0L inline-six turbo diesel.
The E7 also features the rear-hinged back doors, expected to ease ingress and egress of uncooperative suspects. Additionally, Carbon Motors indicated the E7 will pass the 75-mph rear-impact crash standard, an officer-protection benchmark.
Optional E7 equipment includes the usual selection of red and blue "wig-wag" lighting, front passenger compartment bulletproofing, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) sensors, automatic license plate recognition system, 360-degree audio/visual surveillance system, and a LoJack stolen-vehicle tracking system.
Pre-ordering is available at the Carbon Motors website, with 14,000 units currently reserved.
"We have been surprised that we have been contacted by agencies in all 50 states—federal agencies and local ones," said company co-founder Stacy Dean Stephens, a former patrol officer. "The feedback we continue to get is, 'It's about time.'"
Editor's note: This article appeared in the May 2010 issue of Government Fleet, a sister publication of Police Magazine.