Ford is a major player in first responder vehicles and this new change will save taxpayers millions in fuel costs.
Ford is introducing a new drivetrain for the police vehicles it provides to municipalities that will save taxpayers big bucks on fuel costs. The new hybrid engine system is standard, not optional, on Ford’s 2020 Police Interceptor Utility vehicle. Ford says that the new vehicle will have a 24 MPG Combined EPA estimate. That is an amazingly frugal fuel usage if you consider that the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Limited, a dramatically smaller vehicle, has that same 24 MPG rating. Ford crunched the numbers and says that each 2019 Police Interceptor Utility vehicle sold will save taxpayers between $3,500 and $5,700 per year on fuel costs, compared to its popular outgoing model with the standard 3.7-liter engine. Best of all, the new vehicle is just as quick, just as roomy, and just as safe.
“Our Police Interceptor Utility’s standard hybrid powertrain provides the potential for significant fuel savings with improved performance and no tradeoffs in safety or interior passenger or cargo space,” said Stephen Tyler, Ford police brand marketing manager. “It’s a win-win-win formula for law enforcement.” It is also a win for the taxpayers who pay for the fuel police use. Ford calculated the savings that would be incurred if the same number of police vehicles it sold in 2017 had this new drivetrain and came up with an estimate as high as $193 million. The volume of fuel saved equates to 43 million gallons of gasoline.
Part of the credit for the fuel savings goes to the new 10-speed automatic transmissions that every version of the Police Utility Vehicle will come with. However, it is the unique ability of the hybrids to power the electronics of the vehicles when parked that may provide the biggest savings. Ford points out that hybrid technology is ideal for law enforcement because when police vehicles are stationary, a conventional engine needs to run constantly to power emergency lighting, radios, computers and other on-board electrical equipment. Ford’s new Police Interceptor Hybrid’s powertrain enables the engine to shut off for extended periods, while still powering the electrical equipment via its lithium-ion hybrid battery. “Whether patrolling or sitting idle, the all-new Police Interceptor Utility will change the way officers work,” said Bill Gubing, chief engineer for Police Interceptor Utility and Ford Explorer. “Everything about it was designed for keeping police officers safe, comfortable and ready for action.”
Ford sells nearly 50,000 vehicles to American law enforcement groups each year and presently has about 65% of the total market. Ford offers other police vehicles for sale. The complete list includes the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan, F-150 Police Responder, Expedition SSV, F-150 SSV, Transit PTV and SSV Plug-In Hybrid Sedan. However, it is the Utility vehicle that is leading the pack. Utility vehicles for police passed sedans as the most popular choice back in 2014.
Police vehicles have followed the same trend as passenger vehicles in moving away from sedans and to taller, more spacious vehicles – and for many of the same reasons. Sgt. Michael McCarthy of the Michigan State Police (MSP) precision-driving team told Autoweek that it isn’t the bulk and inherent safety that is the only attraction. “The SUVs are up higher, they’re easier to get in and out of. I love driving the sedans as long as I can stay in them but if I have to get in and out of them all day I much prefer a taller vehicle,” said McCarthy. He went on to add, “(police departments) are buying a larger percentage of SUVs than they are of the sedans, They are very capable. They have a fairly short turning radius. They’re deceptively fast.”
How fast is the police utility vehicle? In recent Michigan State Police testing, the 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility hybrid had the quickest 0-100 mph acceleration, fastest lap time on a closed course, and also the highest top speed of 137 mph, beating out V8-powered entries from other brands. The only faster vehicle tested was its sibling, the Ford Police Interceptor Utility powered by a 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine. Apparently, there is a “replacement for displacement.”