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To demonstrate that a vehicle with an electric powertrain can deliver strong performance and stand up to demanding police duty cycles, the company is submitting an all-electric police pilot vehicle based on the 2021 Mustang Mach-E SUV for testing as part of the Michigan State Police 2022 Model Year Police Evaluation on Sept. 18 and 20. Graphics on vehicle not available for sale.

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Ford Mustang Mach-E Is First EV To Get A Michigan State Police Pursuit Rating

Last month, I managed to let a very interesting and important story slip through the cracks in my inbox. For the first time, an electric vehicle passed the tough tests the Michigan State Police puts potential police cars through, and that car was a Mustang Mach-E.

“The fact that the Mustang Mach-E successfully stood up to the grueling Michigan State Police evaluation demonstrates that Ford can build electric vehicles that are capable, tough and reliable enough for even the most challenging jobs,” said Ted Cannis, CEO of Ford Pro. “We understand the needs of our commercial customers and are committed to unlocking new electrification opportunities for them.”

The Mach-E is obviously not the first electric police car ever. We’ve run stories about Tesla, Chevy, and other police vehicles. The big difference here is that a manufacturer submitted a vehicle for the Michigan State Police to actually test on the tracks and see how well it would serve as a police vehicle. The extra demands of acceleration, braking, and vehicle dynamics are enough to damage or overheat many vehicles, so getting a rating from the MSP is a great way to get more police departments to buy one.

Just saying “Hey, you can buy one and stick police stuff in and on it” isn’t enough for many departments to want to take a chance. But, if you can tell police departments that an actual police agency tested the vehicle and said it checks out, that’s a whole other story.

The Challenging Tests

Top Speed & Acceleration

To test these figures, the Michigan State Police goes to Chrysler’s proving grounds and uses its 4.8 mile oval track. The curves in the oval track can handle up to 140 MPH, and maximum speeds are determined in the straight sections. They also test 0–60 MPH, 0–80 MPH, and 0–100 MPH on the same track.

The Mach-E went from 0–60 MPH in just over 4 seconds in this year’s testing, and 0–100 MPH in just under 12 seconds. It took 2.1 miles to reach the top speed of 124 MPH. 124 miles per hour is low by top speed standards, but keep in mind that high-speed chases are pretty rare these days. Most states have laws regulating police pursuits, and generally don’t allow the chases to happen like they did in the ’80s and ’90s, as they were often a bigger danger to the public than the danger of the criminal involved.

Braking

Brake tests are much like those you’d find in a magazine, but they’re instrumented. Optical sensors, GPS, and other instruments are used to gather exact braking figures. This is all done on a concrete straight section at the Chrysler Proving Grounds.

On this point, the Mach-E went from 60 MPH to zero in 125 feet.

Vehicle Dynamics

Unlike drag racing, police vehicles may be called upon to perform in turns and twists in the road. This means that vehicle dynamics are very important. These tests are performed on a race track with 13 turns.

On this course, the Mach-E managed to complete a lap in an average of 1 minute 42 seconds. This made it the slowest vehicle tested this year, unfortunately. But, it was only slower by 1–4 seconds compared to the other police vehicles on the track.

Ergonomics 

In these tests, it’s determined how easily the car’s controls are accessed, how well an officer can see from the vehicle, and how comfortable it is for a police officer to sit in for hours at a time.

No testing data from this class has been released as of this writing.

Communications

Radio technicians look at the vehicle and determine how easy it would be (or how hard it would be) to install an agency’s unique radio, lightning, siren, and computing equipment in the vehicle. Access to 12-volt wiring, space for radios, and ease of maintenance are all factors in this.

No testing data from this class has been released as of this writing.

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is taken from the EPA rating from the Monroney (window) sticker. Police vehicles are unlikely to achieve those ratings, as the EPA driving cycles are based on normal driving, but they are still a good point of comparison between vehicles, so agencies can determine what is best for them.

Why This Matters Enough To Write About A Month Late

As I mentioned, the Mustang Mach-E will not be the first electric police vehicle ever. Departments have already been fielding Teslas, Chevrolet Bolt EVs, and other electric vehicles in various roles. Some have stuck with using EVs, while other departments that adopted a little too early have stepped back (most notably, LAPD’s experiment with BMW i3s). So, Ford is definitely not the first here.

What they are first at is submitting a vehicle for testing. This means an actual police agency has taken the vehicle through its paces. We might know of other vehicles that could pass this test with flying colors, but their manufacturers haven’t submitted one for testing, so it’s a moot point.

Many police agencies just aren’t going to give an EV the time of day unless it has been tested by MSP or another agency. They don’t have money for testing programs of their own, and if questions ever come up after something bad happens, agencies that bought a “pursuit rated” vehicle can point to MSP’s testing and say that they had good reason to think it was responsible to use the vehicle. Agencies that just buy a Tesla or a Bolt and stick police equipment in and on the vehicle can’t say that such testing happened.

I personally hope that GM, Tesla, Volkswagen, and other manufacturers submit vehicles for MSP testing next year. Truth be told, police vehicles tend to spend a LOT of time idling and burning gasoline to go nowhere between calls and during calls when the officers are out on foot. Switching out these high performance vehicles that sit a lot for ones that don’t burn gas when sitting still would make a much bigger positive impact than switching out most other vehicles.

The more agencies that can feel comfortable adopting EVs, the better the overall impacts will be.

Featured image provided by Ford.

 
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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to explore the Southwest US with her partner, kids, and animals. Follow her on Twitter for her latest articles and other random things: https://twitter.com/JenniferSensiba

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