Ford has just unveiled the country’s newest plug-in hybrid (PHEV) targeted for the police force and government fleets.
The new Ford plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is specifically designed for police and fire chiefs, as well as detectives and other non-pursuit law enforcement personnel.
Technically speaking, the new Ford will have a modest 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack for up to 21 miles of range on electric mode. Sound familiar? The Energi lineup from the company offers the same specs. That’s because this is a modified Ford Fusion Energi. The speed limit on electric mode is 85 mph and Ford estimates the total range is north of 500 miles in full hybrid mode.
Why PHEV Makes (Even More) Sense for Law Enforcement
When Ford revealed its first pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicle earlier this year, government fleet owners and especially the police asked for more electric capacity (i.e., the ability to run the cars in stealth quiet mode). Ford decided to offer a more efficient option with a plug-in platform. Known as the “Special Service Plug-In Hybrid Sedan,” the company claims it is a first in the US.
Although the vehicle won’t break any performance records, it is a step in the right direction for these municipal fleets. It also includes a 3.3 kW onboard charger, giving it 2.5 hours to fully charge on a 240-volt, Level 2 charger.
For the Police
Electric police vehicles are a tough sell. I was at the Long Beach Motorcycle Show in 2012 for the Zero Motorcycles 2013 improved lineup. They brought a police-painted motorcycle, lights and siren included. At the company’s party, the Chief of the Motorcycle Force showed up and eyed those electric motorcycles with interest. We got him on it for a test spin. This was one of the most fun interviews I was lucky to have captured. He came back with a grin from side to side and said that finally he had a way to sneak up on suspects without being heard.
This might sound odd but consider a gas car or motorcycle creeping up on an attempted burglary and then consider the same with a pure electric vehicle (EV). EVs are not only quieter, the Chief said, they also are easier to ride and be on all day. I love motorcycles, but spending all day long on a boxer motorcycle is not something I would wish on anyone. Unfortunately, Long Beach didn’t adopt electric motorcycles. There wasn’t enough battery density to run lights and sirens for long periods of time, as is required for emergencies.
However, the City of Hawthorn did buy those motorcycles two years later, as we witnessed at the Tesla Model S P90D unveiling.
Lack of range at high speed is still a deal killer for many policy and emergency vehicle fleets, and that’s why a PHEV powertrain wins the day in this market.
What Does the Inside of a Police PHEV Look Like?
As you would imagine, the interior had to be customized, with heavy-duty cloth front seats and reduced bolsters for officer comfort. If you wonder what that means, I highly encourage you to go on a police day-long training where you walk around with the belts they carry. You will understand why they walk the way they do. Those belts are big and cumbersome. Arms simply don’t hang down. They bow over the belts and utensils. As far as the rear seats, the cars receive security anti-stab plates, vinyl rear seating with handcuffs holes for comfort, and special flooring. Why all that? Imagine cleaning cloth seats after taking intoxicated people to the station and you get the idea.
The Special Service PHEV Sedan had to reinforce its top tray for the usual police-mounted equipment, with a metal console mounting plate, red and white task lighting in the overhead console, a police engine-idle feature, unique alloy wheels, and an auxiliary power distribution box in the trunk.
It also comes with options, such as a driver spot lamp, a trunk storage vault, a trunk ventilation system, and a rear door control-disabling feature. There is also a special dark-car feature that dims the interior lighting dash cluster 100% for surveillance purposes, as well as several emergency lighting packages.
Ford’s Special Police & Government Fleet Vehicles
The new Special Service PHEV Sedan is an addition on top of the Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan and the F-150 Police Responder. Both successfully completed rigorous testing by the Michigan State Police at Grattan Raceway in Belding, Michigan, and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Fleet owners will be able to order the Special Service PHEV Sedan this December with sales starting next summer.
Ford’s Long-Lasting Love with Law Enforcement
Back in 2010, CleanTechnica was invited to participate in the company’s Go Further event, which showcased behind-the-scenes Dearborn operations. We drove many vehicles on test tracks, including the current Ford sedans and SUV police vehicles roaming the US today. That was a lot of fun.
I should disclose that my wife works for the Long Beach Police Department and I have done several ride-alongs with police officers, including the incredible MET team, a force specialized in dealing with mental health and disorders. These officers are trained psychologists and are called on for first interventions. It was an eye-opener. I also participated in a day-long training that condenses a year’s worth of officer training. Let’s just say I wouldn’t cut it for the job. I died twice that day in simulations. I highly encourage you to do one of these if your local police department offers it.
Why Electric Drivetrains are Important to Law Enforcement
The race for higher battery energy density is not only crucial for the commercial sector but even more for the police force. Fatigue caused by internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles’ constant vibrations and spending hours every day on a motorcycle or in a car is tough to handle, even for the police. Constant pollution from those heavy V8-powered cars and the persistent idling — because it takes a long, long time to boot up the nonsensical Microsoft operating computer system onboard — needs to be cut. By the way, now you know why they idle and don’t stop. If called into emergency, Windows won’t boot up in time. Methinks it’s time for a slimmed down, blazing light, and safer Linux option.
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