The blues are going green – with the help of Ford Motor Co.
A number of major U.S. law enforcement organizations have been considering ways to use cleaner, more efficient powertrain technologies – not necessarily because of a deep commitment to tackle global warming, but in the hopes of reducing hefty fuel costs. Keeping police cruisers on the road 24/7 isn’t light on the budget.
Working with various authorities, notably including the Los Angeles Police Department, Ford has come up with what it’s billing as a clean, lower-cost alternative: a hybrid version of its widely used Fusion Police Interceptor. Delivering an estimated 38 miles a gallon, Ford estimates each Police Responder Hybrid Sedan will save the typical police department almost $4,000 a year on fuel.
The hybrid cop core is the second of 13 new, electrified vehicles Ford plans to introduce over the next five years, a $4.5 billion effort that includes conventional hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs. The first is a BEV version of the maker’s Transit Connect van going on sale in Europe while also being fleet-tested in the U.S.
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The Police Responder Hybrid bears some similarities to the conventional Ford Fusion, though the powertrain has undergone a number of updates to make it, among other things, more robust, a critical step considering the abuse police interceptors face on a daily basis. It also delivers performance comparable to that of the old rear-drive Ford Crown Victoria that was a staple in police fleets for decades.
The heart of the new cop car is an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter gas engine paired with an electric motor drawing power from a roughly 1.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The package has been calibrated for law enforcement applications. That means not only higher performance but control software designed to let the vehicle idle primarily in electric mode, the engine occasionally firing up if the battery starts to drain. The Police Responder Hybrid also can operate for short runs in battery-only mode at speeds up to 60 mph.
The EPA is giving the package a combined rating of 38 mpg, or more than twice that of the current police package using a 3.7-liter V-6. “Cities could see approximately $3,877 a year in fuel savings per vehicle, based on $2.50 per gallon fuel prices, leading to less vehicle downtime for fill-ups,” Ford said in a statement.
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Ford currently has a 63% share of the U.S. police cruiser business. It is hoping to pick up even more with the new hybrid. The Police Responder is making its debut in two of the country’s largest cities, New York and Los Angeles.
“Our mission to create safe and healthy communities in Los Angeles is achieved through sustainable approaches in community policing, and that includes embracing new technologies,” said Charlie Beck, chief of the LAPD. “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.”
Ford says it will start taking orders in the coming weeks, with deliveries of the Fusion Hybrid police package to start over the summer.
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