With the proven Crown Victoria-based Interceptor headed for the great Dunkin’ Donuts lot in the sky, Ford is pursuing police fleet business with a two-pronged strategy. A Taurus-based Police Interceptor sedan will replace the Crown Vic, and an new unibody Explorer-based SUV for those that need a little more space and utility, such as K-9 units.
Although some traditionalists in departments are skeptical of how well front-wheel-drive models can hold up to the rigors of police duty, Ford is convinced that it can retain a large percentage of its current law enforcement business with the new models. In this time of municipal frugality, one of the most prominent selling points of the new models are their approximately 20-percent fuel economy improvement over the previous V-8 powered, rear-drive CV-based Interceptor. Using the 6,200 vehicle fleet of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as an example, a fleet-wide 20-percent fuel economy gain would save the department at least $20 million a year at the current California per-gallon average of nearly $4 per gallon.
The Interceptor sedan model is available with the EcoBoost 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 from the Taurus SHO model. While its V-8-rivaling acceleration and performance has certainly won it some fans in the departments that have tested it, the drivetrain’s additional technical complexity with direct-injection, turbocharging, and the associated all-wheel-drive could prove intimidating to some fleet service departments accustomed to working on rear-drive, live-axle V-8 models.
However, according to Marisa Bradley, Ford Car Communications Manager, the company is confident in the vehicles capability, durability, and serviceability. “We revealed the car a year ago, and we’ve been on a tour across the U.S. and Canada meeting with agencies, and doing drive experiences with them. But all along, [the events] have been touchpoints for us to discuss driveability and durability. We’ve also discussed how our dealer networks will be able to help in this regard. We’ll be rolling out training modules for municipal agencies, but in the meantime, we’re going to leverage the strength of our dealership service departments, and the extensive training that they have received, to help departments with service and maintenance.”