Ford's 2012 Police Interceptor patrol car. Image courtesy of Ford.
The Ford Motor Co. unveiled its new Taurus-based Police Interceptor in Las Vegas today and provided initial details about the patrol car that will replace the aging "Crown Vic" in late 2011.
The vehicle was unveiled at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, during a private event for law enforcement fleet managers, who praised the vehicle's advances over the Crown Vic.
"No changes are needed on this design," said Lt. Keith Wilson, a Michigan State Police trooper who oversees the departments' annual evaluation of patrol vehicles. "Ford is really moving forward into the future with this car and taking advantage of the latest technology."
Ford also confirmed it has begun production on a second new Police Interceptor that will be a utility vehicle and will share some parts to help agencies save on maintenance costs. Ford will release details about that vehicle later this year.
The automaker relied on input from the law enforcement fleet managers with purchasing influence on the automaker's police advisory board.
"We've created a new Police Interceptor built to do the job by those on the job," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas.
Like the civilian version of the 2010 Taurus, the new full-sized patrol car will arrive in all-wheel and front-wheel drive versions and a pair of powertrain configurations.
The V-6 engines will deliver better performance than many current V-8s, according to Ford.
The base model arrives with a 3.5-liter, V-6 that delivers 263 hp, E85 fuel compatibility, and is 25 percent more efficient than the 4.6-liter Single Overhead Cam (SOHC) V-8 offered in the current Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.
Ford will also offer the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, V-6 twin-turbocharged, direct-injection engine that will deliver 365 hp and 350 ft.-lb. of torque across a broad rpm range.
The vehicle also offers several new safety and ergonomic features for officers.
"Safety, space, comfort and functionality must seamlessly come together," said Scott Tobin, Ford's vehicle line director for cars and crossovers. "It's an ideal balance between mobile office and mobile jail."
Like its CVPI predecessor, the new Police Interceptor passed the 75-mph rear-end crash test. It will also feature Ford's Safety Canopy side-curtain air-bag system that slips between the occupant and the side window during a rollover or side-impact crash.
The cockpit includes a column shifter to free up the center console area, which now includes a "media bin" to charge cellphones and USB devices.
Seats have been redesigned; a lower bolster adds room for an officer's duty belt. The driver- and passenger-side seats include anti-stab plates, and the rear doors hinge open an additional 10 degrees to accommodate entry and exit, especially in handcuffs.
Additional features include a blind-spot detection system that uses radar sensors in the rear quarter panels to detect vehicles in surrounding lanes, a cross-traffic warning system for backing out of driveways, a rearview camera system for reversing, electronic stability control and the Ford SYNC hands-free telematics system with steering-wheel controls that can be re-mapped. The radar sensors and back-up camera are expected to be offered as options.
The patrol car arrives as Ford faces increasing competition from its rivals who are also offering new options to law enforcement agencies. Ford now maintains more than 70 percent of the patrol-car market, according to the company.
General Motors is re-introducing the Chevrolet Caprice patrol car in 2011, and Carbon Motors executives have said they've taken 12,000 pre-orders for the E7 clean-diesel patrol vehicle. Also, Chrysler executives say they'd like to see their Dodge Charger reach 40 percent of the patrol-car market.
The new Police Interceptor will be built at Ford's Chicago plant and will be submitted to the Michigan State Police and Los Angeles Sheriff's Department in the fall for evaluation. Pricing has not been set, but should be comparable to the cost of the Crown Vic.