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Charger squad sales fall as SUVs rise

by David Zatz on

The police car market changed swiftly in 2013, as departments opted in large numbers to pick SUVs instead of cars. Chrysler, with no pursuit-rated SUVs (only a “special service” Durango), logged fewer sales, while Ford and Chevrolet battled for supremacy.

According to Allpar’s sources, Ford’s Police Interceptor (PI) Utility was the top selling police vehicle, with 14,086 moving out — more than double 2012’s total (a 140% increase). The primary Ford attraction was reportedly all-wheel drive, which is available in the Dodge Charger as well — but only as of 2014.

The Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV), a traditional body-on-frame SUV, was nearly as popular as the Ford, with 13,629 sales, and Chevrolet has added a pursuit-rated 4-wheel-drive offering to its line.

SUVs accounted for 48% of law enforcement fleet sales in 2013 as agencies took advantage of the cargo space the light trucks offer. Police car trunks are packed with the tools of the trade, and downsizing presented some serious problems.

The increased height is also a plus for cops working traffic; not only do they have a better observation platform, the extra inches also add to the visibility of warning lights when stopped for accident investigations or traffic enforcement.

Based on registration data supplied by IHS Automotive* and figures from Ford and General Motors, the Dodge Charger remained the best-selling police car last year with Ford’s Taurus-based Police Interceptor Sedan** taking the runner-up spot. The Chevrolet Impala PPV was a distant third, about 400 sales ahead of the Australian-built Caprice PPV. Even as late as August 2013, the Charger was in second place but it fell to third as the Tahoe passed it in the fourth quarter of the year.

The Charger took over the top spot after Ford ended production of its highly popular Crown Victoria sedan. The Crown Vic had ruled the Tijuana Taxi market since Chevrolet discontinued the full-size Caprice in the 1990s. By August 2012, the Charger was leading the market, but a year later, in August 2013, the Ford PI Utility had overtaken the Dodge sedan.

State-of-the-Squads-Web

Chevrolet representatives said 2013 was their best police-sales year in nearly twenty years, and their best results from the big Tahoe. As can be seen from the chart, Tahoe sales have risen dramatically and may yet surpass those of the Ford PI Utility. Officers with whom Allpar has spoken have expressed a preference for the larger Tahoe. Despite its size, the Tahoe is surprisingly maneuverable: watching the Fort Worth, Texas, Police Department conducting urban pursuit training showed the big Chevy is capable of some surprising handling.

2013 U.S. POLICE MARKET SALES
Vehicle 2013 Sales Market Share
Ford Police Interceptor Utility 14,086 23.69%
Chevrolet Tahoe PPV/SSV 13,629 22.92%
Dodge Charger Pursuit 12,031 20.23%
Ford Police Interceptor Sedan 10,897 18.33%
Chevrolet Impala Police 4,281 7.20%
Chevrolet Caprice PPV 3,874 6.52%
Dodge Durango SSV 662 1.11%
Total Market Sales 59,460
Data Source: IHS Automotive, Ford Motor Co. General Motors

Ironically, Chrysler was years ahead of the game. In late 2005, it began producing the 2006 Dodge Magnum Police Package as a companion to the new Charger. Had the Magnum survived, it could have been fitted with the same AWD system available for the Charger and would have had more cargo space — nearly as much as the Ford PI Utility. In addition. the Magnum could have been certified for pursuit much more easily than the Durango, and Chrysler would have had the one-two punch that has given Ford market leadership with a 2013 share of 42%.

Dodge-Magnum-Police-Web

A Chrysler spokesman told Allpar:

Chrysler Group is committed to its leadership in the pursuit-rated sedan business. The Charger Pursuit holds the crown in the police vehicle segment with the fastest-ever lap record set by the Michigan State Police – highlighting its rear-wheel drive performance, agility and tactical readiness only Dodge can deliver. And adding to our prowess is the new 2014 Charger Pursuit AWD that became available last quarter, integrating the segment’s most advanced all-wheel drive system – all to give the heroic men and women who protect us even more all-season capability.

*Chrysler Group does not break out police sales from its overall fleet volume. The IHS Automotive data is based on actual agency registrations of the Dodge Charger Pursuit and Dodge Durango SSV and is used with their kind permission.
**Ford classes and reports sales of the Police Interceptor Utility and Police Interceptor Sedan separately from the Explorer and Taurus on which they are based.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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