Cop cars: No one really wants to see them in the rear view mirror, and yet everyone seems to slow down and gawk when someone else is pulled over. For a long time, the Ford Crown Victoria, known as the Police Interceptor, has been the police vehicle of choice; with a body on frame design and rear wheel drive these cars were street tanks. Pulling bent frames, replacing panels, rebuilding and replacing rear ends has become commonplace for police departments. In all reality, we knew the current Crown Victoria would not soldier on forever and reality has finally set in for the Crown Vic. Currently, the Chevrolet Impala and Dodge Charger are both being sold for police duty but Ford’s Crown Victoria is still the reigning champ when it comes to the number of police vehicles on the road. But, current Dodge Charger police vehicles walk all over the current Crown Victoria in performance.
Last October, Chevrolet showed off the upcoming Caprice PPV (police patrol vehicle). This vehicle is based off the Zeta platform, the same platform the now dead Pontiac G8 was based off of. GM is utilizing the long wheel base version of this platform currently being used in the Caprice in the Middle East market. GM says that this vehicle will only be sold for police use. They interior has been modified for police duty, including the seats which are designed to accommodate utility belts. The center stack is designed to allow a computer to be installed along with the high technology needed. A large touch screen is optional and will take up almost the entire center stack. In the rest of the vehicle, the trunk measures 18.5 cubic feet. For power, the engine will initially be a one choice E85 capable 6.0 liter. V8 pushing out 355 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque channeled through a six speed automatic to the rear wheels. After about, a year a V6 should join the engine line up. Of course, all the heavy duty upgrades will be implemented such as brakes, alternator, transmission and other bits, all upgraded for police use.
Last week, Ford unveiled the replacement for the Crown Dinosaur, which happens to essentially be a police duty Taurus. Of course, this will not be called the Taurus, rather it will be known as the new Ford Police Interceptor. Like the consumer Taurus, the new Police Interceptor will come in either front wheel or all wheel drive with the same base 3.5 liter, V6 pushing 263 hp and 250+ ft-lb of torque, or the optional Ecoboost V6 pushing out 365 hp and 355 ft-lb. The base V6 routes the power to the two front wheels while the optional Ecoboost will route the power to all four wheels. Ford has said that a police vehicle needs ‘cop brakes, a cop motor and cop suspension’. Apparently, the new Taurus either met these requirements or has had the necessary upgrades to meet the demands. Additionally, the seats are new and, like the Chevrolet PPV, they are designed to let an officer sit comfortably with their utility belts on. The trunk measures in at 20.1 cubic feet. Ford is boasting about how the new Police Interceptor can withstand a 75 mile per hour rear impact: an industry first. Ford also promised that another Police Interceptor model would be unveiled later this year. That model would be a utility vehicle of some sorts most likely based off the upcoming new Explorer or the Flex, both of which are variations on the Taurus platform.
A new Dodge Charger should be unveiled sometime later this year as the new 2011 Charger is scheduled to start production in November. As the current Charger is gaining traction in the police vehicle market, you can be assured the next generation Charger will have a police package available. The current Charger uses the 5.7 liter Hemi V8 pushing 368 hp and 410 ft-lb through a five speed automatic transmission. The interior does not have seats specifically designed for the officer like the new offerings. The next Charger will, undoubtedly, have more specific police officer focused interior amenities.
There is also an oddball player that is scheduled to enter the market. Carbon Motors is set to bring a new type of police vehicle to market named the E7. This is a all new car coming from an all new company. The vehicle will utilize a 3.0 liter turbo diesel engine putting out 250 hp and 400 ft-lb with all the power being pushed to the rear wheels. Some are claiming this vehicle might be capable of 30 mpg on the highway. This car is the definition of high technology for the police, featuring a touch screen computer in the dash, LED police lights and suicide rear doors. The back seat will be fully washable as it is made of hard plastic instead of vinyl like the competition. Carbon Motors is claiming over 12,500 orders for the E7 (which is a codename while the car is in development) from 350 law enforcement agencies across the U.S.. The vehicle is scheduled to be produced in Connersville, Indiana.
A quick break down of the specs we know as they currently stand-
239hp and 287 ft-lbs, RWD, 20.6 cubic ft trunk, rear leg room 38 in, 4127 lbs
355hp and 385 ft-lbs, RWD, 18.5 cubic ft trunk, rear leg room 43.2 in, 4075 lbs
263hp (365hp) and 249 ft-lbs (350 ft-lbs), FWD (AWD), 20.1 cubic ft trunk, rear leg room 38.1 in, 4015 lbs (4368 lbs)
368hp and 410 ft-lbs, RWD, 16.2 cubic ft trunk, rear leg room 40.2 in, 3900 lbs
So, what we have here is a new war of the cop cars. While I do not doubt the Carbon Motors E7 will come to market, I wonder at what cost. The vehicle is technology laden and that is probably going to be its largest issue. The Taurus is a heavy car and adding all wheel drive adds complexity to the drivetrain. Long term, the all wheel drive will add cost to the ownership for police departments along with those twin turbos.
I think that many markets in the snow belt, such as the Northeastern part of the U.S. and Minnesota, Detroit, Illinois and others, will embrace the optional all wheel drive in the Taurus and that the rest of the market share will most likely shift to the Chevrolet PPV. The next generation Dodge Charger will undoubtedly sell some police units and I am sure the Carbon E7 will sell, but it is too early to tell in what numbers. According to Ford, the police market gobbles up nearly 60,000-70,000 vehicles per year! My sources tell me that the PPV, with the V8 costing approximately $17,000-$18,000 to the fleets, you can take about $1,000-$2,000 off that price when the V6 launches. Time will tell who wins this war but without a question, it will be interesting to watch. Leave your thoughts in the comments.