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Charger Pursuit leads shrinking market

by Bill Cawthon on

The good news is that in the first half of 2015, the Dodge Charger Pursuit was the best-selling police car in America.

The bad news is that cops are switching to SUVs and Fiat Chrysler still doesn’t have a player in that market.

Police-Vehicle-Sales-Web

Since police departments began motorized patrols early in the 20th Century, the vehicle of choice has always been a passenger car. Many forces used cheap 2-door coupes; others chose sedans. Sometimes pickup-based panel deliveries were used for patrol duties, such as the Chicago Police Department’s “squadrols,” but cars were the rule.

Police fleet buyers began switching some purchases to SUVs when General Motors upgraded the Chevrolet Tahoe from a Special Services Vehicle (SSV) to a Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV) and certified it for high-speed pursuit and response.

2015-Police-Mkt-Share-WebThe change accelerated when Ford phased out the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Abandoning the law enforcement market wasn’t an option for fleet-happy Ford; it replaced the big sedan with two vehicles: a sedan based on the Taurus and a pursuit-rated SUV based on the Expedition.

Ford then went around the country, cutting very aggressive deals, including a three-year exclusive contract with the California Highway Patrol.

As a result, Ford went from a post-Crown-Vic market share of less than 40% in 2012 to the 61% share it recently announced.

In the first year, the Police Interceptor Sedan was the bestseller; sales of the Police Interceptor Utility outpaced the Sedan in 2013 and have soared to take more than 72% of total police sales.

Ford-Police-Sales-2012-2015-Web

At GM, sales of the Chevrolet Tahoe PPV also account for 72% of law enforcement sales. Most of the remaining deliveries (17%) go to the Chevy Impala PPV with the Caprice PPV, a rebadged Holden imported from Australia, getting not quite 11% of the GM pie.

While the Charger Pursuit outsold the Ford PI Sedan by eight units, the clear winner is the Ford PI Utility. Sources tell Allpar that the numbers for the Chevrolet Tahoe aren’t as good as they might be due to the changeover to a new model which interrupted deliveries.

Police-Vehicle-Chart-Web

Fiat Chrysler doesn’t break out fleet sales, but the registration numbers supplied by IHS Automotive would seem to indicate that about 10% of all Charger sales are to law enforcement agencies. If true, this would indicate that police fleet sales are a significant source of revenue, if not profit.

Sales of the Durango could use a similar boost, making Fiat Chrysler’s reluctance to modify the SSV version of the Dodge SUV and certify it for pursuit a bit of a puzzle. the Durango’s certainly got the power, payload and space. Some tweaks to the suspension and upgrades to the brakes and cooling should let the Durango compete in what looks to be a growing market. In addition, it would allow Dodge, like Chevrolet and Ford, to offer a complete pursuit solution to fleet buyers.

All fleet registration data supplied by IHS Automotive. Historical sales data for Ford from Allpar archives.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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