Skip to comments.Cops Shop For New Cars After Ford Stops Making Crown Victoria
Posted on 01/16/2010 6:15:13 AM PST by DogByte6RER
Cops shop for new cars after Ford stops making Crown Victoria
By STEVEN ELBOW
The Capital Times
Thursday, January 14, 2010 5:30 am
In the near future, you may not see that iconic Ford emblem you may have been unlucky enough to glimpse beneath the flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror. Local police are getting ready to move to new squad cars.
Ford announced last year that its ending production of the ubiquitous Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, which for nearly two decades has dominated the squad car market nationwide. The move will shake up the look of police car fleets as law enforcement agencies scramble to fill the gap.
Madison residents can expect to see several Dodge Chargers hit the road in February as police begin to explore their options. With their sleek design, the Chargers will be in stark contrast to the boxy fleet of Crown Vics.
Theyre definitely a sharp-looking car, says Sgt. Eric Tripke of Madisons traffic safety team.
While the department plans to keep an eye on the market and experiment with other models as they become available, there are few options in the short term.
Right now, the only police package vehicle other than the Crown Victoria thats out there that we thought would meet our needs is the Dodge Charger, says Capt. Richard Bach, who heads up traffic services for the Madison Police Department.
That is likely to change as competition for the squad car market heats up.
Ford ended production of the consumer version of the Crown Victoria in 2007, and has been seeing increased competition in the police car market, leading to the decision to replace the aged workhorse with a new, yet-to-be-unveiled Police Interceptor in 2011.
The Dodge Charger is already scooping up market share while Chevrolet readies a revamped Caprice for a 2011 release. And newcomer Carbon Motors Corp. plans to produce the first car designed exclusively for police work, in 2012.
Carbon Motors futuristic cop car, now only a prototype, is generating a lot of buzz. It has a 300-horsepower clean diesel engine, an onboard voice-command computer with instant license plate recognition capability, shotgun mounts, an ergonomically designed drivers seat that accommodates bulky utility belts and gun holsters, and even an option for detecting biological and radioactive weapons. It also reduces the ick factor that comes with transporting intoxicated passengers who tend to vomit or urinate inside the vehicle: it comes with a drain. And it is expected to have twice the estimated lifespan of the average police car.
The downside? The price, which is around $50,000. But Bach says the $21,500 Crown Vic actually costs about $46,000 by the time its outfitted with many of the accessories that will come standard with the Carbon Motors police car.
At just over $21,000 for a V-8 engine and $20,000 for a V-6, the prices of the Chargers are comparable with the Crown Victorias. The city has purchased its 10 new cars with a federal grant.
Whatever squad car Madison police officials pick for their entire fleet will be the successor to a long line of vehicles, which have included Ford Fairlanes, Plymouth Gran Furys and Dodge Diplomats as well as Chevy Impalas, Caprices and Novas, not all of them well-received by officers.
I remember the Dodge Diplomats, and quite honestly they were a piece of junk, Tripke says.
Bach says the departments experiment a few years back with Ford Tauruses also was a failure, mainly because they were expensive to maintain. With the beating they took from officers hitting curbs, crossing medians and driving at high speeds, the front-wheel drive made for serious drive-train problems. Now, most law enforcement agencies will buy nothing but rear-wheel-drive squad cars.
Many departments, including those in New York City and Seattle, are experimenting with hybrids, both as patrol vehicles and for non-patrol officers such as command staff or detectives.
Monona Police Chief Walter Ostrenga went that route a year ago, buying a hybrid Toyota Camry for a detectives use.
At more than $23,000, it was more than a Crown Victoria, but it gets 38 mpg in the city and Ostrenga says he hopes the car will last for 10 years. But he also says it isnt suitable for patrol work because its not effective for high-speed pursuits.
If we were just in the city and didnt have to go out on the highway or the Beltline we might be able to pull it off, he says.
With budget constraints in cities nationwide and uncertainty about the squad car market, many agencies have put off squad car purchases. But they cant put them off for long.
Bach says the average lifespan of squad cars, which are driven hard and often run 24 hours a day, is three to four years. That means Madisons entire fleet of about 120 pursuit-rated vehicles will change over by about 2013.
Facing similar circumstances, the Dane County Sheriffs Office has already put five new Dodge Chargers in the hands of its traffic team, and so far deputies have given them a thumbs-up.
I think its a great platform to work out of, says Deputy Steve Mueller, whos driven the model for about 18 months.
He says equipping the car was a challenge. A lot of police equipment, including things like passenger cages, shotgun mounts and radar mounts, were made specifically for Crown Vics, since they account for more than 75 percent of the police vehicle market. But once the equipment was in place, the Charger has performed well, displaying better handling and stability, not to mention comfort.
Under performance situations, the car handles so well that its much easier to drive so we can concentrate more on the law enforcement duties we have to do and less on the driving, he says. It keeps us safer in that way.
Despite the extra power of the hemi V-8 engine, Mueller says hes seen about a 10 percent increase in fuel efficiency over the Crown Vic due to the fact that the hemi engines automatically shut down four cylinders when the car is idling, which is often.
But there are a couple of negatives. The passenger seat is cramped because police equipment situated in the center of the cab encroaches on it. Its also more difficult to lock the car with the engine running. And theres a delay when the car is put in reverse as the gears catch up, making it more time-consuming to make a Y-turn, which officers have to perform more often because the car has a wider turning radius than the Crown Vic.
Madison plans to put five Chargers on the road with V-6 engines and five with hemi V-8s. Tripke says that while hes had the chance to drive one of the new cars, the traffic safety team is not included in the pilot project. The vehicles are being given to regular patrol officers because the department considers that a better indicator of how they will perform during typical use.
The V-8s are expected to have better durability and speed, which Tripke says is making some of his colleagues wish they were in the pilot project.
Theres a lot of officers just itching to get behind the wheel of those Chargers, especially the hemis, he says. Theyre going to be a good short-sprint vehicle.
My locals drive Chargers ... that is one bad@$$ looking cop car...
The PC cars would be better than the Caprice cars they drove around in for a few years.
I don’t undersand why they stopped making the venereable Crown Vic. It’s practically the same as a Mercury Grand Marquis. I would have liked the consumer model, as I favor big bixy cars WITHOUT “luxury” (read expensive to repair) options. It’s getting harder to find a car with bench seats.
Theres a lot of officers just itching to get behind the wheel of those Chargers, especially the hemis, he says. “Our officers can’t wait to break the laws the peons can’t.”
A Fiat would be a wise investment in climate control. Climatefool Gore no doubt drives one.
Is the Charger V-8 a Hemi?
Was supposed to intro'ed at the Detroit Show.
Haven't seen it yet. Maybe soon.
Stop laughing please.
Most police professionals agree the 1994-96 Chevy Caprices were the best police package vehicles ever made to date. I own a 1995 and it is absolutely bullet proof and gets almost 25 mpg on the highway.
That is what they use where I live, too. I get the impression that the officers like them.
Could you please give us the source for your claim?
If you talk to your average law enforcement officer who has driven the Dodge Charger, they’ll tell you most likely the first thing they absolutely do not like about the car for normal patrolling, is the poor side, and rear quarter visability...
The municipalities that buy them, get one or a couple units to try out, and that pretty much it...
Sure, they look sharp, and they have somewhat the engine to keep up, but the overall opinion I have heard is that they do not like them, and they do not compare to what has been working for the last 20 years...
But don’t knock the French...They love those little “Smart Cars”...If Inspector Jacques Clouseau uses it, it must be good!!! /sarc
LOL. Would have a hard time intimidating anyone in that vehicle.
I think the Tata Nano would be perfect. It’s coming on the market at $8,000 a pop.