By: Andy Newbound
The high-powered gas-guzzling police cars that patrol the highways of America could be set to cut back on their fuel consumption. And although it’s good news for the environment, and cash-strapped city-hall budgets, it isn’t good news for the criminals.
That’s because although Ford’s newly launched Police Responder hybrid Fusion sedan could save the average ‘small’ county law enforcers up to $4,000 dollars in fuel costs, it won’t cut their Force’s performance.
The Fusion’s 2-Liter four-cylinder engine and 1.4 kilowatt lithium-ion battery, is forecast to deliver as much as 38mpg. That’s 20mpg MORE than Ford’s current police interceptor, the Taurus.
Although the Fusion won’t be quite as fast as the current 3.7-litre turbocharged V6 Taurus, Ford still expects the new hybrid to perform well enough to achieve a formal ‘pursuit’ rating. To do this, the car will have to meet prescribed standards in acceleration, braking, handling, ergonomics and also top-speed. If successful, it will make the list of Michigan and Los Angeles approved pursuit cars and become available for other forces to buy.
Ford are confident these benchmarks will be achieved and have already prepared the car to automatically switch to Pursuit Mode when the acceleration pedal is held down for five seconds. Ford also promise that the hybrid sedan will be robust enough to handle police duties.
Although the car is smaller than Ford’s current Police vehicles, the manufacturer doesn’t see that as a problem. Todd Soderquist, Ford’s chief engineer for the Fusion Police Responder, said; ‘Internally, you’ll be surprised at how comparable they are.’
Ford’s confidence could be a reflection of the demand for a Police Hybrid vehicle. Police forces and representatives from 24 other departments across the US, have been asking for a hybrid vehicle for a long time. Ford expects the Fusion to feed this demand.
“We’ve had a lot of support from our police advisory board that has been pushing for a pursuit-rated hybrid for some time,” revealed Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas. “With Fords now making up some two-thirds of the country’s police cars, they trust us.”
It’s not just the frugally-minded US cities and counties that will be interested. As a Hybrid, Ford’s Fusion will help cut emissions from Police vehicles by a considerable amount. As one of the most heavily polluted cities in the country, Los Angeles could be one of the first Police Forces to adopt the Fusion, although the car’s green credentials aren’t LAPD’s only decision-influencing criteria.
‘Patrol vehicles are a police officer’s office, and we expect them to not only be economically and environmentally efficient but also an effective tool for fighting crime in major metropolitan areas,” explained Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.
This pursuit-rated Fusion is only a small part of Ford’s plan to electrify a large portion of its fleet. Indeed, by 2020, Ford plan to have introduced hybrid versions of the Mustang, a new fully-electric small crossover, plus a plug-in hybrid version of the Transit Custom. It’s only a matter of time before these vehicles hit UK roads too.
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