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Cops Shop For New Cars After Ford Stops Making Crown Victoria
The Cap Times ^ | Thursday, January 14, 2010 | STEVEN ELBOW

Posted on 01/16/2010 6:15:13 AM PST by DogByte6RER

Cops shop for new cars after Ford stops making Crown Victoria


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 it’s 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.

“They’re definitely a sharp-looking car,” says Sgt. Eric Tripke of Madison’s 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 that’s 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 driver’s 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 it’s 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 department’s 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 detective’s 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 isn’t suitable for patrol work because it’s not effective for high-speed pursuits.

“If we were just in the city and didn’t 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 can’t 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 Madison’s entire fleet of about 120 pursuit-rated vehicles will change over by about 2013.

Facing similar circumstances, the Dane County Sheriff’s 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 it’s a great platform to work out of,” says Deputy Steve Mueller, who’s 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 it’s 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 he’s 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. It’s also more difficult to lock the car with the engine running. And there’s 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 he’s 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.

“There’s a lot of officers just itching to get behind the wheel of those Chargers, especially the hemis,” he says. “They’re going to be a good short-sprint vehicle.”

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: automakers; autos; carporn; cars; cops; crownvictoria; ford; fordmotor; leo; police; policecars
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To: grjr21

Jake and Elwood served and protected The Penguin.

121 posted on 01/16/2010 8:47:29 AM PST by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: All
How about the English retro look?

For short cops only...:^)

122 posted on 01/16/2010 8:47:57 AM PST by az_gila (AZ - one Governor down... we don't want her back...)
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To: billorites
Stop laughing please.

To be fair, that isn't a bad idea for a cop patrolling pedestrian areas. It's kind of like the thing Blart drove in "Mall Cop," except you have a place to put your lunch.

I would raise the chasis and add a tread for navigating stairs and obstacles.

123 posted on 01/16/2010 8:50:25 AM PST by Grizzled Bear (Does not play well with others.)
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To: Lurking in Kansas
Yeah, I will sometimes yak about the good old days of "real" cars, but there is no way I would willingly return to daily driving in those old machines. I remember reaching speeds where cars would seem to go from stable to "oh @#$*, this is scarier than &%*# but I'm not going to admit it" just like that... and nowadays thinking about driving at high speed on those old bias-ply, not rated for high-speed tires makes me cringe.

About all I will say in favor of the police cars of those days is that as poor as they were compared to today's vehicles, they generally handled better than their civilian counterparts. Bigger brakes, better tires, "reduced rate suspension," beefier anti-sway bars and such made the interceptors mighty blunt instruments that were nevertheless always just a little bit better than their musclecar equivalents (the latter made even less effective when jacked up in the rear to accomodate a set of slotted "mags" with 60-series Mickey Thompson RWL's).

124 posted on 01/16/2010 8:59:15 AM PST by niteowl77 (You wanted him, and now you have got him. I say, "Good day to you," America.)
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To: JohnG45
Lose the business? It seems as if Ford has decided to walk away from the business!

Ford can see the hand writing on the wall. They know no police force or other gov't agency will be allowed to buy anything but a gov't produced vehicle.

125 posted on 01/16/2010 9:04:27 AM PST by paul51 (11 September 2001 - Never forget)
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To: Rebelbase

That’s just wrong.

126 posted on 01/16/2010 9:07:21 AM PST by Noumenon ("Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed, that he has grown so great?" - Julius Caesar)
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To: grjr21
Just as an aside did you notice that “ To serve and protect “ was stricken from the side of that police car

That is a spoof of the Blues Brothers car. I believe you will find it at Universal Studios Theme Park.
127 posted on 01/16/2010 9:09:46 AM PST by Kegger
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To: RegulatorCountry
GM is already diverting the pipeline of Opels and Holdens to Buick. There will be a new Buick Regal for 2011, based upon the new Opel Astra, previoiusly destined to be the Saturn Aura

The Buick Regal for 2011 is actually the Opel Insignia and not the Astra which is also a really cool car.

What I could never understand is why both Ford and GM built cars in Europe that I liked much more than the ones they made and offered here in the US. Do I have different tastes or is there something I don't understand?

At any rate this is changing for the better. Both GM and Ford are leveraging their worldwide operations and will offer the best they have everywhere. Consider GM. They will offer the Buick Regal (Opel Insignia) and the Chevy Cruze and a few others. Ford will finally bring over their Focus to North America. There are going to be some exciting news cars coming out in the next year of two. I can't wait.
128 posted on 01/16/2010 9:10:59 AM PST by truthguy (Good intentions are not enough!)
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To: grjr21
Just as an aside did you notice that “ To serve and protect “ was stricken from the side of that police car

I do believe that vehicle is an homage to the infamous "Bluesmobile" from the Blues Brothers movie.

129 posted on 01/16/2010 9:12:52 AM PST by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: Dr. Sivana

I don’t think you have to worry about Olive Garden being the top Italian restaurant in Atlanta. LOL

When we visit our daughter in Tucker, we like to go to Bambinelli’s in North Lake. They are as good as the best Italian restaurants on the Hill in St. Louis.

130 posted on 01/16/2010 9:42:39 AM PST by rwa265 (Christ my Cornerstone)
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To: UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide

I was thinking about buying a Fiat when I got out of the Army in 1972. But after driving my sister’s Fiat one time, I changed my mind. I couldn’t believe how small the pedals were. I ended up buying a 1972 Buick Skylark with a 350 engine.

131 posted on 01/16/2010 9:47:37 AM PST by rwa265 (Christ my Cornerstone)
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To: truthguy

Actually, I knew that. Astra, Aura, got them tangled up, lol.

What amazes me, is that a comparatively tiny and somewhat isolate market such as Australia can manage to produce such a variety of interesting makes and marques.

There’s a definite Australian “look,” though, they must be a fairly conservative bunch. Ford Falcon, Holden Commodore, what have you, they have a distinctive low-cowl profile and general, overall proportions.

It appears they actually like their cars, as we once did.

132 posted on 01/16/2010 10:22:42 AM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: billorites
Stop laughing please.

I'm trying, I really am. If they used these when I was I college they would find them upside down, every chance we got.

133 posted on 01/16/2010 10:31:49 AM PST by 11Bush
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To: DogByte6RER
If they plan on tyranny, I would suggest

134 posted on 01/16/2010 10:38:02 AM PST by Lazamataz (America has been dead for a while; It's interesting to watch the cadaver cool.)
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To: stevie_d_64

Um, I don’t know what you’re seeing, but most departments here in Texas either have converted to Chargers, are in the process of converting, or will be converting. In the DFW area, the majority of cop cars are now Chargers, and most officers I’ve talked to like them quite a bit.

135 posted on 01/16/2010 11:01:39 AM PST by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: A2J

Carbon Motors website (google it).

136 posted on 01/16/2010 11:36:31 AM PST by bagadonutz (Boiler up!)
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To: A2J

IS it better to be the rear-ender, than the rear-endee???

In this case I don’t think anyone enjoyed that encounter...

137 posted on 01/16/2010 11:40:44 AM PST by stevie_d_64 (I'm jus sayin')
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To: Spktyr

Large departments will probably be sucked into those deals via the manufacturer, but my information is coming from smaller departments that are looking haard at the maintenance costs, and overall reliability of the base unit to begin with...

The issue about visibility is just one of the first things I heard from someone who hit the street in one when they were first being presented to departments to beta test...

Maybe it will just have to be one of those things they’ll have to get used to...

138 posted on 01/16/2010 11:47:16 AM PST by stevie_d_64 (I'm jus sayin')
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To: DogByte6RER

China has the best law enforcement vehicle idea. The execution van, smartly equipped to send you to your maker after a quick trial and justice is served.

139 posted on 01/16/2010 12:23:16 PM PST by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: bagadonutz
Is this a brand new company or just an offshoot of GM?

The cars resemble the new Camaro.

140 posted on 01/16/2010 3:40:47 PM PST by A2J (Buck Religion)
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