By on October 5, 2009

Capricious!

Automotive News [sub] reports that GM has announced plans to roll out a police-only Chevrolet Caprice in 2011, based on the Holden Statesman. V8 and V6 version of the Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle will be available for order in late 2010, giving GM a competitive entry in the police cruiser market long-dominated by Ford’s Crown Victoria. Though this photo is an official GM image, spokesfolks warn that details aren’t completely finalized yet. “Some of the elements, some of the styling will be different in the production version. We are not releasing all the details in terms of specs at this point,” say GM’s Brian Goebel. Just don’t expect the changes to be major upgrades, because they are intended “to bring it in line with the Chevrolet look and feel.” GM’s RWD cop car comes just as Ford has hinted that it will develop future police vehicles based on the FWD Taurus. Meanwhile, if you want a civilian version of the Caprice, you’re stuck waiting on future police auctions. Sorry.

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43 Comments on “Caprice, Thy Name Is General Motors...”


  • avatar
    CommanderFish

    Caprice vs Taurus vs Charger

    Begun, the interceptor wars have.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    If they couldn’t make a profit importing the G8, how is this going to work?

  • avatar
    mikey

    Yeah, I’m wondering, will they run it here, or in OZ? Will they run a Taxi package? Sounds like a great vehicle to run down the Camaro line. Lots of questions.

  • avatar
    jmo

    So my tax money is heading to OZ? Why not use Avalons and keep the jobs in the US?

  • avatar
    mikey

    @jmo Right you are, but right now your tax dollars are going to Ontario, b/c thats where the big Fords are run.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    And with that GM has just put a .22 in Ford’s “law enforcement” head.

    So my tax money is heading to OZ? Why not use Avalons and keep the jobs in the US?

    GM is a company based in the United States. And the Ford Crown Vic…which own about 80% of the LE market…has been built in Canada since it was born in 1979.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Can’t imagine police departments committing to a Chevrolet police special and re-equipping their maintenance shops without long term production and support assurances, not that GM undertakings can be accepted at face value.

  • avatar
    mikey

    The US taxpayer already owns a huge piece of GM. Right..and the other major owner would be? Yeah I can see the UAW backing an Toyota police car.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Once the Crown Vic is gone…all departments will be in the same boat.

    There is no long term support for this, the Taurus, and the Impala.

    The only one that has a future is the Tahoe.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    @Commander Fish

    It would be Caprice VS Charger

    Impala VS Taurus

    The 2 RWD monsterz will chew the Taurus and spit it kms away.

    —–

    I dig the steelies. Make it look sinister.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Is there any money to be made here? Ford can sell the Vic cheap because the tooling has to be long paid off. But even an existing G8 with chevy badges would have quite an investment to pay off. I am not sure that this makes a lot of sense on a pure profit standpoint. I had heard rumors that Ford does not make much off of the police business as it is.

    Gardiner Westbound has a point. Ford did not get a significant police presence a lot of places until Chevy pulled out, largely because of maintenance savings from not having to stock multiple kinds of oil filters, plugs, brake parts, etc. If Ford pulls out, then there is a reason to switch. Maybe this is GM’s plan.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    I don’t quite understand Ford and GM’s attitude to these ‘Police Only’ cruisers – I mean if they are building them for the police, in a variety of colours – why exclude sales to the general public? If someone wants to buy one, why say “NO”?

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Why not a hybrid? Police cars spend a lot of time idling with A/C and electrical loads running, and the hybrid that I drive can run both A/C and radios with the engine “off”. Also, police cars travel a lot more miles, which means the fuel savings pay for the hybrid premium a lot quicker.

    I haven’t run the numbers for a police car — but one of the people who runs the bus system in my town said that they could pay a $100,000 hybrid premium per-bus, and easily make that money back on fuel savings over the life of the bus. $5k-$10k for a heavy-duty hybrid system in a police car that also runs constantly seems pretty affordable, even considering that police cars get much better fuel mileage than city buses.

    I have the same argument for taxicabs. Adding fuel-saving technologies to constant-duty commercial and government vehicles would save a lot of money and fuel, even if they only provided a moderate increase in fuel-mileage. They’d easily save more fuel in the course of a year than all of my fuel purchases combined.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    I don’t quite understand Ford and GM’s attitude to these ‘Police Only’ cruisers – I mean if they are building them for the police, in a variety of colours – why exclude sales to the general public? If someone wants to buy one, why say “NO”?

    Ford hass been telling people not to buy the Crown Vic/Mercury Grand Marquis/Lincoln Town car since 1998. How?

    -In 1998, the tow rating for the Panther cars dropped from 5000 pounds to 1500. What changed? Well, the cars got BETTER brakes and more power. And it had the same transmission and rear end as the Ford V8 Explorer. Why did it drop? Ford wanted people to buy the SUVs.

    -Since 2005, most Ford dealers didn’t even stock a Crown Vic on the lot…and if they did, it was tucked back in a corner and only shown when people asked for it. Ford wanted people to buy the Five Hundred/Montego…even though a Panther car makes them FAR more money.

    ————-

    The Panther cars represent the absolute best of Ford Motor Company (long lasting, extremely efficient, durable, reliable, PROFITABLE) and the absolute worst (left to rot on the vine, no advertising, HATED by FMC, etc).

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    “Why not a hybrid?”
    I can just see some cops on a freeway doing a ‘tipping’ manoevre at 100mph+ in a nudge bar equiped Prius…

  • avatar
    Srynerson

    I don’t quite understand Ford and GM’s attitude to these ‘Police Only’ cruisers – I mean if they are building them for the police, in a variety of colours – why exclude sales to the general public?

    I would give my opinion why, but since I might have a run in with law enforcement some day, it’s probably healthier for me to keep my mouth shut.

  • avatar

    I have never understood how Chrysler makes any money on the police package Charger. Of course its development costs were probably written of years ago by Daimler, Cerberus, or during C11.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    My prediction for another police package:

    New Texas (or Arizona or Nevada or…) Highway Patrol vehicles – F150 Raptor

  • avatar

    This is not a clean-sheet car GM invested big bucks to come up with for Police use only out of the blue.

    All GM is doing is importing the Holden Caprice which has been offered in Australia since 2006.

    http://www.holden.com.au/caprice

    Holden already exports the Caprice to LHD markets as the Chevrolet Caprice and it’s used in law enforcement in the Middle East. Pretty much a no brainer for the US.

    Also, this project for GM is not just about making money. It’s also about keeping Holden’s plant humming along. Right now they’ve been working one shift with the workers alternating shifts.

    Being able to actually work two shifts and produce more cars helps their cost structure. Even if GM breaks even on selling the police cars, Holden wins by running their plant much more efficiently.

    GM likely won’t be able to undercut the Charger on price (and parts for it could be a bitch as most of the car is unique to America) but will rely on space, performance and the Chevrolet and Caprice brand names to get a big chunk of the police vehicle market.

  • avatar
    Guzzi

    One way this makes sense is to also offer a 6-cylinder version for fleets. That is, non-police government fleets. Wait, doesn’t the govmint own part of GM?

  • avatar
    carguy

    You’d think that after all the mods they made to make this suitable for police work in the US that they would try to offset those costs by also selling it to the public as a Chevy – why restrict your market just to PDs?

  • avatar
    86er

    You’d think that after all the mods they made to make this suitable for police work in the US that they would try to offset those costs by also selling it to the public as a Chevy – why restrict your market just to PDs?

    We big-car lovers are bound to suffer ad infitium.

    I’m learning to come to terms, as it were.

  • avatar

    I think that if there is enough law enforcement interest in this car we will see it offered to civilians as well.

    GM is covering themselves with a base number of sales to the police first before diving headfirst into regular new car market this time, to try and not get caught with their pants down.

    If it catches on I’m sure we’ll see this and other Holden cars offered as Chevrolets.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    Luke42 :
    October 5th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Why not a hybrid? Police cars spend a lot of time idling with A/C and electrical loads running, and the hybrid that I drive can run both A/C and radios with the engine “off”. Also, police cars travel a lot more miles, which means the fuel savings pay for the hybrid premium a lot quicker.

    Two reasons: Cost and complexity. Cop cars need to be cheap and a $5,000+ hybrid premium is not. Do we buy 4 new hybrid cars for $25,000 a piece or do we buy 5 non- hybrid cars for $20,000 a piece? Your average department head is going to want 5 new cars instead of 4 new cars every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    You can make all the arguments you want about the gas savings, etc. and the chief of police will stare at you and say two things:

    “We don’t pay the full price for gas anyway.”

    and

    “If it’s that big a deal, I can just write up a general order telling my guys to turn off the engines when parked, and screw how hot/ cold/ rainy it is.”

    This order will then be ignored by 90% of all officers unless a supervisor happens to be in the immediate area. Which is almost never.

    Police cars also need to be simple, which translates to the average fleet manager as “more reliable.” Their various electrical systems need to be fully integratable with a myriad of radio, computer, siren, and lighting manufacturers because every department has a different budget for that stuff and they also like to yank it out of old cars and put it in new cars. This can be done with hybrids, but it’s not nearly as straight forward.

    The biggest knock on hybrids for police work is that their trunk space gets eaten up with battery packs. Police need their trunks more than most civilians do and something that cuts into that space on purpose will not be viewed favorably.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    I stopped wondering why people (in general) don’t buy Panthers when I realized that a Sienna or Oddy starts about the same price, accelarates as quick gets better mpg, handles better, tow more and are more reliable. Parks in less space and offers acres more room and versatility.

    Shoot, CRs test mileage puts Panthers right in with the V6 C/SUV crowd, and they have as much or more power, more room and better towing.
    If you like big sleds, great! But on usefulness these tanks are outclassed by far too many machines that have more appeal to the masses.

    Ford stopped selling the CV to the public because virtually no body wanted them. They were already over 90% fleet.

    It’s a niche market that is gone.

    Just some thoughts.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    GM likely won’t be able to undercut the Charger on price (and parts for it could be a bitch as most of the car is unique to America)

    That will be the killer. One of the huge reasons the Crown Vic is ubiquitous is that the parts are commonly available and inexpensive. A one-off, small-market, special-purpose product is by it’s very nature excluded from serious fleet consideration. For that reason this is a stupid idea.

    Keeping Holden’s factories runnng is all well and good, but I do have to ask: are they going to lose more money idling, or by producing cars that people aren’t buying?

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    In my neck of the woods, police buy huge, ponderous gas guzzlers, even though usually there is only one person in the vehicle, I guess for the same reason that officers seem to be equipped for fighting the Taliban. Overkill at the taxpayers’ expense.

    GM plans an undercover version of this new police car. As if a plain-jane car that no one else uses is hard to spot.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Sinistermisterman: “I can just see some cops on a freeway doing a ‘tipping’ manoevre at 100mph+ in a nudge bar equiped Prius…”I recently saw a Prius with a ‘Police Interceptor’ badge on the rear deck. The driver told me it was a ‘special’ model with a V8 under the hood.

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    This is not a clean-sheet car GM invested big bucks to come up with for Police use only out of the blue.

    If that is the case why the year long delay before bringing the car here? This all makes no sense… and why not launch the car as a civilian car at the same time?

    Welcome to the new GM… Dumb and Dumber

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m starting to think that everything GM does anymore is executed just to personally piss me off.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    A one-off, small-market, special-purpose product is by it’s very nature excluded from serious fleet consideration. For that reason this is a stupid idea.

    BINGO.

    1) At some point they should realise that they HAVE to sell a civilian version.

    2) To keep maintenance costs low, reduce price and so on… they will have at least to assemble it from CKD kits in America (Mexico, US, Canada…)

    If that is the case why the year long delay before bringing the car here? This all makes no sense… and why not launch the car as a civilian car at the same time?

    Certification, that’s why. Should they brought the G8 with some facelifting, it would have taken less time. I think maybe this was an afterthought idea.

  • avatar
    Lee

    Dear GM,

    Build them for the public too to help amortize costs.

    Kthxbai.

    http://i744.photobucket.com/albums/xx82/ljsearles/caprice2.jpg

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Notwithstanding I promised myself to never again buy a domestic car. I would make an exception for a civilian Chevrolet Caprice.

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    Certification, that’s why. Should they brought the G8 with some facelifting, it would have taken less time. I think maybe this was an afterthought idea.

    Wait a second.. I though Lutz said that all cars (specifically the Zeta) were “World Cars” an would be built to international certification levels… You mean that Lutz was making stuff up?

    You would think that the certification for a police car would be the same or even worse then a civilian car… again this makes no sense..

    After thought? Looks more like “No Soup for You”…
    Lets just dangle this car in front of their noses… piss them off…. Its not like there aren’t other large RWD cars to buy… Oh there are… never mind

  • avatar

    This lets GM recoup costs invested in the G8, like replacement parts. Remember, under the skin it’s a G8 and there are a bunch of Pontiac dealers being wound down with inventories of parts in their service departments. Add the GM parts depots. This way all those parts can hopefully be sold and earn revenue.

    As for a fleet only cop car, it might be profitable. Remember, they aren’t going to be spending hundreds of millions on advertising to promote it. GM & Ford do sell many thousands of pickups and work vans to fleets at a profit.

    There are fleet sales and there are fleet sales. Fleet sales of passenger cars to rental companies is not necessarily profitable and can damage long term resale value. I don’t think that fleet sales of work trucks have those drawbacks and those fleet sales are profitable short term and long term.

    Also, it gives GM the option of a retail Caprice down the road.

  • avatar
    OfficerNelson

    A one-off, small-market, special-purpose product is by it’s very nature excluded from serious fleet consideration. For that reason this is a stupid idea.

    Don’t forget the Carbon Motors E7. The profit margins for purpose-built cop cars are so absurdly low that Carbon will crash and fail.

    The only reason the E7 is getting preorders is because it’s got fancy voice-activated lights and sirens and the doors are supposedly armored. Whoopee. Why pay twice as much for a full package instead of getting a Vic and installing some lights yourself? It’s not that hard.

    Also, this isn’t 1970, we’re not installing TwinSonics on cop cars anymore. Lightbars are aerodynamic. Self-installed interior lights are cheaper as well if you don’t want to go old school. Face it, the decision simply to buy 10 Vics (or Chargers) or 4 E7s is easy.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    This sounds like an attempt to use up Australian capacity. Or to be more pointed about it, a way to create bogus paper profits for Holden to justify the continued operation of that subsidiary, because selling more units allows them to claim lower per-unit production costs.

    With the Aussie dollar as strong as it is and fleet prices as low as they are, there is no way for this car to be profitable, period. This has money loser written all over it. If it was a foreign car maker, we would accuse them of dumping.

  • avatar
    Bubba Gump

    SinisterMisterman.

    Ah the 64 dollar question: “If their going to make it for the municipalities why not for the public?” And the answer is? If its only sold to government municipalities it does not count against their fleet cafe numbers. Got it, Get it, Good.

  • avatar

    psarhjinian, that may be. But given Chrysler’s precarious position and public image a Chevrolet competitor in the Police market, even if it costs a little more, might look vastly more appealing to law enforcement. Especially if (when) Chrysler goes tits up.

  • avatar

    CamaroKid, the answer is simple. One that was already mentioned was CAFE. Another is that the market for Holden cars in the US seems to be weak (at least under Pontiac).

    Selling this car as a police/fleet car first allows GM to test the waters. If the Holden Caprice gains traction in our market as a Chevrolet with the police then GM’s exposure and risk with a civilian version would be minimized somewhat.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    But given Chrysler’s precarious position and public image a Chevrolet competitor in the Police market, even if it costs a little more, might look vastly more appealing to law enforcement. Especially if (when) Chrysler goes tits up.

    I agree with you regarding Chrysler and the PP Charger: there’s no future there and I’d feel really, really sorry for any police force (eg, like the one in my town) that’s invested in them. My understanding is that they’re not that well-liked, being much more cramped and more costly to repair than the Crown Vic, which is in turn more cramped than the old Caprice.

    Now that I think about it, the Charger has probably sealed the fate of any non-CV offering. Fool me once, etc, etc.

    I think Toyota would have a better chance at the cop market by stripping and rebadging LWB Lexus LSs as “Toyota Celsiors” than GM would with this.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    So the 6 speed bits from the G8 should drop in…This could be a fun sleeper down the road…even better thann the 9c1 Caprices!

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    Be interesting if this coaxes Ford into doing that long overdue parts bin update of the CV and extending it through CAFE in 2016, but I am not holding my breath.

    Only way I can see then making money on this by offering retail also, if they can the ancient WImpala and market this as their NA RWD Impala and leave most of the old W-body sales for the new Malibu. As it stands right now the new Malibu is actually hurt by the WImpala since it directly competes with it, and the ancient WImpala offers more car for less money between those two.

    Doesn’t matter, Ford’s gonna hold that 80% police market share with the new Taurus. [/sarcasm]


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