The law enforcement vehicle market has been a rich vein of news in recent months, as officers have learned new details about patrol cars on their way to your station.
Beginning with the announcement of the development of the Carbon Motors E7 patrol vehicle about a year ago, we've also seen General Motors re-introduce the Chevrolet Caprice, the increasing popularity of the muscle-y Dodge Charger and, announced today, Ford's new Police Interceptor.
Ford unveiled the vehicle at a private fleet event at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Staging a symbolic, dramatic entry, Ford's president of the Americas Mark Fields drove the new vehicle into a garage, following the entrance of the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (CVPI) that it's replacing. With the entrance, foam doors were shattered and dozens of police fleet managers from the U.S. and Canada were introduced to the car.
You can read the full details about the new Police Interceptor in our news coverage of the event, which was broadcast via the Internet.
Law enforcement fleet managers who attended the event were impressed by the vehicle's power, safety features and ergonomics.
"This car integrates a lot of stuff that's been missing that weve needed," said Sgt. Martin Bronisz, fleet manager of the Erie County Sheriff's Office covering the most populous county in western New York. "A lot of the stuff I see answers complaints from my guys."
The vehicle is available with Ford's EcoBoost engine, a 3.5-liter, V-6 twin-turbocharged, direct-injection engine that will deliver 365 hp and 350 ft.-lb. of torque across a broad rpm range (from 1,500 to 5,200).
The vehicle can reach 60 mph from a dead stop in the 5-second range, said POLICE Editor David Griffith, who rode in the vehicle.
Using computer-designed crush zones, Ford will build the unibody frame using Boron steel—the strongest in auto manufacturing, according to the company—on a new "D 3" plaform that was used for the 2010 Taurus sedan. As a result, the vehicle has been given a five-star crash rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
"The safety improvements are very important, especially the crush zones," said Scott Lindsey, fleet manager of the Peel Regional Police in Ontario, Canada. "They will help the occupants walk away from accidents."
With the EcoBoost engine, the vehicle gets 28 percent better gas mileage than the CVPI, and the engine has 75 new or redesigned parts. The automaker is applying diesel-engine technology to achieve this improvement on the all-wheel drive version.
"We're just applying it to a gasoline engine," said Corey Weaver, EcoBoost engine engineer.
Bronisz and other fleet managers from the Eastern seaboard said they were excited by an all-wheel drive Ford patrol car that could be more effective during colder months with snow-covered roads. Others said a front-wheel-drive car will work once officers receive training on it. With this type of vehicle, a driver can lose steering during quick accelleration from stop.
"The problem with front-wheel drive is that officers are not trained for it," said Wyatt Earp, fleet director of the Marion County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office. Once we're trained for it and used to it, it will be OK."
One of Ford's tests involved driving the vehicle over 8-inch curbs.
The vehicle has been designed to make installation of electronic equipment easier, and the rear door swings out 71 degrees, which is "exceptionally good for prisoner transport," Earp added.