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Dodge, Ford fight for state police cars

by David Zatz on

During the 1980s, Dodge and Plymouth dominated the police-car scene with their Diplomat; when they stopped production in 1989, Chevrolet’s Caprice 9C1 with the LT1 V-8 ruled the roost. After General Motors stopped producing full-size sedans in 1996, Ford’s Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, or CVPI, the last of the old rear-wheel-drive cars, took over by default until Dodge re-entered the fray with its new Dodge Charger Pursuit, around seven years ago.

The Charger easily outperformed the old Fords, but Dodge had some history to overcome, and many fleet managers were comfortable with what they had; but as time went on, fleet after fleet acquired test cars from Dodge and Chargers started to become a familiar sight, easily outselling the smaller Impala 9C1.

2011 Dodge Charger police car

When Ford stopped making the CVPI, with Dodge’s bite apparently bringing Ford’s plant below its break-even point, it quickly prepared two replacements: a front wheel drive, Taurus-based Police Interceptor sedan (with an all wheel drive and turbo option), and, later, the Ford Explorer, renamed “Police Interceptor Utility.” Both were factory-certified as pursuit vehicles.

While the PI Utility can’t compete with Charger in performance, it has more interior cargo space, and according to ex-officer Curtis Redgap, it is being sold at bargain prices to police departments. In addition, the Fords, along with the Chevrolet Tahoe PPV, are the only pursuit-rated police vehicles built in the United States. The Charger and Chevy Impala are built in Canada, and the Caprice is imported from Australia.

In Florida,  Chevrolet bracketed the price spectrum; the front drive Impala was bid at $19,864, the Caprice at $26,194. The next cheapest car is the Ford front-drive sedan at $22,030, followed by the Charger V6 at $22,359. The Ford AWD comes in at $22,614. Ford Utilities are priced at $24,400.


For this year, he believes 19 states have signed up with the Dodge Charger; that includes Florida, where the officers can choose a car, and seem to be overwhelmingly choosing Chargers (around an 80% take rate). 18 states have signed up with one of the Fords, mainly with Explorers; they regained Texas, Virginia, and Colorado from Dodge. One Texas officer said they weren’t impressed by the Fords, but that cost may trump other factors. Tennessee and Delaware have gone for the Chevy.

Up in the air yet are New York, still evaluating ten test cars of each brand, but leaning to the Caprice despite its extra cost;  Vermont, which has only 335 troopers; and New Jersey, which appears to be a low bid state, which would favor Ford.

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