Dodge announced that the famed  California Highway Patrol (CHP) has ordered over 580 Dodge Charger Pursuit police cars , to be delivered over the next two years.

The CHP is the largest state police agency in the nation, and this is their first major purchase since the end of a low-balled, three-year exclusive deal to buy Explorer-based Ford Police Utility crossovers. The CHP-Ford contract was a deciding factor in the move of other fleets from sedans to crossovers and SUVs.

The contract is the result of a competitive bidding process led by the California Department of General Services; the state takes performance into account. Local agencies within California will also be able to piggyback onto the contract, buying with the same price and equipment.

The Michigan State Police  conduct similar tests, which are also published and used by other agencies.

Some of the cars in the order have the 12.1-inch touchscreen which integrates with law enforcement computers, an industry first which should increase safety and convenience.

Most of the sedans will be V6-powered to gain the EPA-rated 26 mpg highway mileage (police Chargers still have five-speed automatics; civilian cars are rated at 31 mpg). All are rear wheel drive, though there are police-edition AWD Chargers.

A small number of Charger Pursuits with 370-horsepower Hemi V-8 engines will be used by instructors at the CHP’s Emergency Vehicle Operations Course in Sacramento . All the cars should be in service by the end of the calendar year.