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Ford Introduces New Police Interceptor SUV

Ford Introduces New Police Interceptor SUV

Courtesy Ford Motor Company

Detroit Free Press via YellowBrix

September 01, 2010

Ford is betting that its all-new police SUV — images of which are being released today for the first time — will help it retain its dominance of the police car segment even as General Motors and Chrysler are launching their own new police cars.

Ford’s new Police Interceptor SUV is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 280 horsepower. It will be offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The SUV also is designed so that aftermarket parts — such as computers and communications equipment — are interchangeable with Ford’s Police Interceptor sedan unveiled this year.

“These two vehicles offer the perfect solution to what a modern police department needs today,” said Jim Holland, Ford’s chief engineer for the SUV.

Production of the Ford police car and SUV, both of which are based on the underpinnings of the Ford Taurus, is to begin next year at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant after Ford closes its St. Thomas Assembly Plant in Ontario where it builds its popular Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.

The Crown Victoria, introduced as a police car in 1983, has been the top choice of law enforcement organizations since 1996, when GM discontinued its rear-wheel drive Caprice police car. The Crown Victoria police car typically accounts for nearly three-fourths of the 75,000 police vehicles sold annually.

Ford said its new police Interceptor car and SUV have more horsepower, better handling and are as durable as the vaunted Crown Victoria.

Ford’s Crown Victoria police car faced lawsuits after deaths were linked to fires caused by rear-end collisions. But Ford said the new Interceptor sedan and the SUV will be rated for 75 m.p.h.rear-end crash tests.

“Ford has put together a great package to take the place of the Crown Victoria,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Keith Wilson, who serves on Ford’s police advisory board and is with the state’s precision driving unit.

One challenge the Interceptor might face is its offer of either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Police departments often prefer rear-wheel drive cars because they provide better weight distribution and traction.

“There are going to be people out there who are staunch, rear-wheel drive enthusiasts,” said Brian Moran, a retired lieutenant of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Still, Moran, who has served on both Ford and Chrysler police advisory boards, prefers Ford’s new car but has not test-driven the SUV.

Ford’s new police car comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 263 horsepower or a 3.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged V6 engine with 365 horsepower.

Ford’s new police vehicles will not be available until late next year. Meanwhile, Chrysler’s all-new Dodge Charger Pursuit and GM’s new Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle are on sale now.

“They are trying to take advantage of it, but the reality is we are not losing any share of the marketplace right now,” said Kevin Koswick, Ford’s director of North American fleet operations.

Later this month, the three competing police cars will face off for the first time in an annual three-day vehicle evaluation by the Michigan State Police, which helps influence other police departments’ buying decisions.

“Bring the competition on and let the product speak for itself,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas.

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