By on November 13, 2009

Keep dreaming... it will be a D3. (courtesy: Flickr/orangetim)

GM surprised more than a few observers when it announced it would build a police-only Caprice model, based on the global RWD Chevy Lumina/ Holden Statesman. “Why build a fleet-only model and miss out on some private volume?” we asked at the time. Well, it looks like Ford’s about to do the same thing. A presser announces the development of a “purpose-built Police Interceptor specially designed and engineered to replace the Ford Crown Victoria law enforcement vehicle lineup in 2011.” Given that time table, “all new” is at least partial exaggeration (as it so often is). And it’s possible that this was motivated in part by the cool reaction to news of a possible Taurus-based Interceptor. GM went to Australia for their police-duty RWD platform, might Ford do the same with a Falcon-based interceptor? Or is this the prelude to Panther 2.0? Or, as common sense seems to dictate, is the Interceptor “all new” simply because there’s just never been an Interceptor based on this Taurus before? If Ford is really engineering a dedicated fleet vehicle for US production with no civilian counterpart, they’re as crazy as GM is. D3 it is.

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48 Comments on “Ford Announces “All New” Police Interceptor...”


  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    I agree. “All new” to police work, but hardly all new. The Falcon theory is interesting, but it just can’t be, because it’s so far from being federalized. GM spent the bucks to federalize the G8, hence the Caprice.

  • avatar

    Well, there are quite a few reasons why it probably won’t be the Falcon or based on it. 

    Primarily the Falcon is not engineered for left-hand drive like GM’s Holdens are, nor are they exported.  Ford AU has never had an export program since the Capri convertible. 

    Ford AU also doesn’t have a lot of volume like Holden so whether or not they could supply the US with all the police cars Ford wants to keep 75% of the market is questionable.  Ford reviewed selling the Falcon in the US before and it was determined at the time that the business case wasn’t there to support the investment of $350million+ required to make it happen. 

    But, Ford AU is on the ropes and so is the Falcon.  I’m sure that if they recieved enough money they could tool the Falcon for left-hand drive and it will be packing Ford’s new 6.2L V8 very soon.  Since the Falcon is waning in Australia Ford AU may have enough production freed up to make a Police-only model for the US to take some of the slack (and keep things humming).

    My money is on the Taurus, but I guess Ford will surprise us very soon.

    • 0 avatar
      PaulieWalnut

      Don’t know where you got the idea that the Falcon is not doing well. The plant is booked out till February and the new model is generally selling in the upper trim levels.  Link
       
       

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    Police cars ,and rental units are death to the retail market on those models.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Honda stuck a frame underneath the Accord to make the Ridgeline pickup, is that what Ford might do to the D3 for their Lincoln MKT P.I.?

  • avatar
    rnc

    If they use a stretched mustang platform and mechanicals and bring over the dies from the previous generation falcon to put a body on it or just import the body (BoF makes this possible) they have a fleet only special that is exempt from CAFE and would utilize the any additional capacity that the mustang factory has.  And if the public begs for it they have the justification required to make the investment in building a US falcon (IRS and all).  Maybe not as crazy as it seems.

  • avatar

    Maybe that RWD platform that was meant for the MKR and Inteceptor concept cars from a few years back is finally coming to fruition.  If so, making it a fleet-only thing isn’t a bring idea, normal people will want it too.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I can’t see how a “fleet only” from down under can make economic sense for GM or Ford. The only way to really drive the cost of the car and replacement parts down to “fleet only” pricing levels is by spreading the cost over a lot of units. Which begs another question about the ease and availability of parts; cop cars go through a lot of them.

    In Chevrolet’s case they badly need a new Impala, the current one is OK but it’s real long in the tooth, and the Caprice would be an excellent replacement. Something tells me however, that GM’s marketing plan (assuming they actually have one) wants no  additional RWD vehicles unless they are going to Cadillac.

  • avatar
    NickR

    This seems to be a very strange arrangement. First, as stated by CyCarConsulting “Police cars and rental units are death to the retail market on those models.” Second, how on earth can this be produced at anywhere near the price of the existing Crown Vic? Seriously, if Deming was right, Ford should be able to crank out Crown Vics at an enviably low cost. So they are going to abandon the Crown Vic so they can cobble together a new fleet only car that costs way more to build?  What?

  • avatar

    NickR, the Crown Victoria is being regulated (and labor costed) out of existence.  Ford wrung all the use and money out of it they could. 

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I vote for Panther 2.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    They should keep making the panther. It gets the job done.

  • avatar

    Do police cars have to comply with CAFE and safety standards?  If not, then selling a pure police car may be a good way to get Falcons over here and build up a base for expanding that platform later.  They still need a good RWD platform going forward, and testing in fleets like police forces gives them a change to build a parts inventory/tech training base for future cars.
    I know it’s a RHD platform, but if you’re tooling up for a new run in the US, is it that hard to flip to FHD?  Lots of parts might not be interchangable, but you’ve still got a developed platform and CAD drawings for the funky parts to flip to LHD cars.  It’s not like the engines turn the other way.
    Maybe off-topic, but other than mirror-image parts what’s the big deal of taking a RHD platform and making it RHD?

    • 0 avatar
      PeteMoran

      There isn’t a big deal. Some things are mirrored some things are transposed.
       
      I see it commonly repeated that the Australia Falcon was “engineered without LHD”. It’s true that no arrangements have (had?) been made to produce the required LHD parts, but the engineering team did do the design work.
       
      Either way, the very strong $A kills this stone dead.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicodemus

      “but the engineering team did do the design work.”

      No they didn’t…I know I was one of them. The manufacturing guys did a study to understand the implications from a part complexity point of view, but thats it.

      In truth the CAD work was very late on the Orion (current FG Falcon model) programme and was barely able to support the build (in some cases it didn’t) let alone have resourses available for an unfunded LHD programme on the off chance it may happen. That said some more visionary engineers did consider the package space that might be required for LHD on a completely ad-hoc basis.

    • 0 avatar
      PeteMoran

      @ Nicodemus

      Well, I feel sure I got the gist of what Simon Butterworth was telling us late in 2006, but perhaps he was referring to the what you mention. I’m fairly certain we got shown I-Deas LHD versions too. Maybe they were never formalised.

      This afternoon, we took a look under my neighbours FPV F6 (great vehicle BTW, brilliant job) and couldn’t see any obvious gotcha’s that would prevent LHD, at least for the steering or pedal component positioning.

  • avatar
    NickR

    “the Crown Victoria is being regulated (and labor costed) out of existence” How so? I am not being disagreeable, I just don’t understand how that is the case, especially the last part. Unless the new car is built in Mexico or South Korea the labour costs aren’t going to be any lower. And the panther plant has been fully amortized since the Reagan era and is in a low cost location. Seriously, if Ford isn’t making money on the Crown Vic, even at fleet prices, they should pack it in.

    • 0 avatar
      hapless

      I’m sure they make money off of it, but it’s being regulated out of existence anyway.
      The new CAFE and rollover standards will kill the panther.   Can you imagine how much re-engineering would be required to allow the roof pillars to support 2x the weight of the chassis?

      In addition, all the non-fleet uses of the panther are on their way out.    It’s been years since I saw a Grand Marquis or a Town Car on a dealer lot.   I’m pretty sure you have to place a special order to even buy one.  ( The standard vic just isn’t available at all. It’s explicitly fleet-only.)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Wasn’t Mad Max’s Interceptor a Ford? If so, I vote for THAT one coming over…

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Why can’t cops just drive normal cars?   What the hell is wrong with an Impala?

    • 0 avatar
      Banger

      To which I retort: What the hell isn’t wrong with an Impala?
       
      Of the front-wheel-drive, late ’90s-to-present-day variety, that is.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      Be more specific.  Why can’t an Impala be used for police work?   Police all over the world seem to be able to do their jobs driving FWD sedans.

    • 0 avatar
      IronEagle

      Well I don’t want some psycho robber/home invader/maniac getting away just because the wheezing 3800 V6 is out run by a 600 cc motorcycle or honda civic with t00nerz turbo. Yeah you can’t beat the radio and all but people do evade sometimes. I’d rather the police chasing can have more g’s to pull to corner better then accelerate with Gen III/IV power catch the bad guys.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Neither good handling or high-speed performance requires the use of an antiquated RWD chassis — the needed tasks can certainly be performed by a FWD or AWD car as well, as they are in most countries around the world.
       
      And no police interceptor in the world is going to out-accelerate a proper sports bike.

    • 0 avatar

      In my area police drive Impalas all the time. I live in the Twin Cities up in MN. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has noticed that the police cars are being supplied by each of the “domestic” manufacturers. There are, of course, Crown Victorias, Impalas and Chargers.
       
      Of course, for some unknown and probably idiotic reason, many departments also have full-sized SUVs, Excursions and Suburbans. I don’t understand why police would need a Subcursion, but what can I say?

  • avatar
    skor

    @ FreedMike Yup, the Mad Max car was a Falcon.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    My guess is that it is one of two possibilities -
     
    1. Modified D3 platform – Same basic size as the Taurus, but with more greenhouse for improved visibility, an easy to clean vinyl interior, and upsized rear door openings to more easily throw arrestees in the back seat.  Such a vehicle would most likely be AWD, and be powered by the 3.5 V6 (which makes about the same power as the current version of the  4.6 liter V8 in the Crown Vic) or by the upcoming EcoBoost 2.0 liter 4 cylinder rumored to put out about 285hp.  Either way it will up the final drive ratio to something like 3.55 or 3.73 for improved acceleration, but still get better fuel economy than the V8 crown vic police interceptor.
     
    2.  An update to the Panther platform that makes room for modernized engines and transmissions for superior fuel economy, as well as a redesigned interior and electrical system to support the increasing amount of technology being packed into police cruisers.  There is nothing inherently wrong with a BOF design for a car, and the increased durability it provides is a boon for police work.  The sloppiness in the handling of the current Grand Marquis and Town Car is more due to suspension tuning for a softer ride that the geriatric customers of those models demand than it is to the BOF nature of the car.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    We will just have to wait and see, unless our resident Ford PR guy wants to help us out here :). Ford completely dominates the US cop car market and as such is probably making a nice profit from it. Anytime one supplier gets the lion’s share of a business it usually means they are making money at it. A 100% dedicated cop car platform obviously doesn’t make sense nor would a dedicated factory. We shall see.

    • 0 avatar
      starbird80

      A 100% dedicated cop car platform obviously doesn’t make sense nor would a dedicated factory.
       
      Perhaps not for Ford, but the folks behind Carbon Motors think otherwise. Interested to see if they get beyond the vaporware stage.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Here’s my (wild and crazy) guess: they’ll base it on the body of the old 500/Taurus, because it’s so roomy, with its tall greenhouse. EcoBoost engines for better fuel economy. AWD for winter traction.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    NulloModo:  An update to the Panther platform that makes room for modernized engines and transmissions for superior fuel economy . . . .   There is nothing inherently wrong with a BOF design for a car . . . .  The sloppiness in the handling of the current Grand Marquis and Town Car is more due to suspension tuning for a softer ride that the geriatric customers of those models demand than it is to the BOF nature of the car.

    All of which means, with a teensy little bit of effort, Ford COULD be building a world class, unrivaled RWD full size sedan (i.e. a new Town Car and Marquis), with just as much room and presence, but more efficient, better handling and chock full of technology.  A car that neither other US manufacturer can build, because they tossed the platforms in the trash bins years ago.  But instead, Ford is letting the TC and Marquis wither on the vine (and has been for several years — my Wixom-built ’05 Town Car seems to be from the last year with any evidence they cared about the product).  Sad, just sad.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Here’s an idea: Ford pulls out of storage the dies for the Five Hundred/Taurus body panels, and reworks the four wheel drive version of the D3 platform to create a rear wheel drive version. (The idea being that 4WD wouldn’t be as rugged.)  Bits and pieces of SHO chassis gear are installed. Plain and durable interior trim is fitted. It gets a column-shift dashboard to leave room for the officer’s computer, radar unit, shotgun, etc.  It gets the 3.7 liter duratec for a little more power while avoiding the complexity and longevity concerns with turbos. Result: a purpose-built, modern, tough, quick, good-handling Interceptor with plenty of room for cops, perps and the gear. The “Five Hundred” shape distinguishes the Interceptor from the current Taurus, but both models can be built on the same assembly line. Ford sells about 45,000 cop cars a year, which would justify the relatively modest investment in dies and tooling to bring the “all new” Interceptor to market.
    Whaddya think, B&B? Is that a feasible scenario?

  • avatar
    James2

    The market is “only” 60,000 units –and Ford’s share is 45,000– so it has to be something cost-effective (read, based off the Panther). Didn’t the CAW just agree to pay cuts… in return for more work? “All-new” could mean a new frame, refreshed suspension, a modest facelift inside and out, and the 5.0-liter Coyote V8. (Not even cops need the 6.2, and police depts. are squeezed by gas prices like the rest of us. In fact, the Honolulu Police Dept. just started testing the Toyota Camry Hybrid.)

  • avatar
    jamie1

    We will just have to wait and see, unless our resident Ford PR guy wants to help us out here :).

    Sorry John. This one is a bit sensitive just yet, but all will be revealed next year in full detail. What we are trying to say is that we are committed to the business and we have been talking to the Police Boards now for quite some time so the solution we have is one we hope that they will be happy with.

    Just hope I can keep myself out of the back of one!

    Kind regards,

    Jay Ward

  • avatar
    Colinpolyps

    In that the market is only 60,000 strong,were I a decision maker at Ford I would stick with the Panther body. It’s been bought and paid for thousands of times over. Say it is outdated. Tell that to the boys in blue that drive them on a daily basis. One of my cop friends once told me when a local force decided to downsize the vehicle to some sort of FWD Chrysler crap/product that he may as well go on duty without a gun if he cant have his RWD Ford.

  • avatar
    blautens

    IronEagle
    November 13th, 2009 at 8:33 pm
    Well I don’t want some psycho robber/home invader/maniac getting away just because the wheezing 3800 V6 is out run by a 600 cc motorcycle or honda civic with t00nerz turbo. Yeah you can’t beat the radio and all but people do evade sometimes. I’d rather the police chasing can have more g’s to pull to corner better then accelerate with Gen III/IV power catch the bad guys.

    A common misconception is that the Ford Panther is a fast patrol car. It never was. When I was a police officer, I bested Panthers in several competitions with my 1996 Caprice 9C1, and even did it with a 1992 5.0 liter version. (Yes, police agencies do things like that…it’s good way to end a week of pursuit training.)
    Even today, it’s not the fastest. Google “michigan state police vehicle testing” – they are the original authority on comprehensive patrol car testing (LA has a good program, too, and they have a unique twist to their tests). In straight line acceleration the Impala is faster than the Panther. In top speed it’s MUCH faster. It only fell behind on the track times (1:40 to 1:42), which is curious to me, but it was consistent, so something is amiss there (understeer, I’m guessing).

    The Impala 9C1 doesn’t have the 3800 engine, either. I’m not saying the current 9C1 is a superior patrol car. I’m just pointing out the Panther is not the fastest, nor the best patrol car ever.

    The last of the GM B body 9C1′s were superior – and still would be if they were produced now – that’s not nostalgia, and I’m not alone in that opinion.

    I was about to go on and on about the multidimensional and unique needs of law enforcement vehicles and fleet deployment, but I just realized no one cares except pistonhead cops, ex-cops, and fleet managers…
     

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I’m none of those things, but I care.

      I suppose I’d like your take on if you see some of the “unique” aspects of police work in North America change to a more European style and the PIT-manuevers and high speed pursuits and curb hopping become a thing of the past, if you follow me.

      If you did happen to go on at length about the unique needs of law enforcement vehicles it might help stem some of this “well they don’t do it that way in Europe” argument.

      TTAC needs to settle this question once and for all.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I’m not sure it would make much sense to have a transverse-engined, rear-wheel-drive vehicle

    U mean Trans engine front mount and power to rear wheels?

    That makes sense if money is no object.
    U need a powerful strong 90 degree angle drive, or a long chain runs all the way to rear axle.
    It probably easier to make FWD with an rear engine too.  Porsche had make AWD .
     

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Ford COULD be building a world class, unrivaled RWD full size sedan…
     
    They did.  It was called the Lincoln LS.  It cost them a mint to design and build, yet they couldn’t sell it for anything remotely resembling a profit.
     
    There’s a reason why there are few pure rear-drive nonpremium cars: there’s no money in them, and other than the enthusiast market, no one will pay the premium to make them profitable.  If you want rear-drive and a non-premium price, the resulting vehicle is going to be so badly compromised that it’s front-drive competition will eat it alive at retail.
     
    The Panther was the choice of fleets because it was so incredibly easy to repair when it was abused.  Fleet managers in North America are going to have to realize that ship has sailed, just as it has in the rest of the world, and that the modern replacement is going to have a the same tangle of suspension and steering components that “normal” cars do, and that they’ll need to expand the repair kit beyond “two stout trees and a big hammer”.

    Cops and cabbies, in their turn, are going to have to stop hopping curbs with impunity and follow the rules of the road like the rest of us.

  • avatar

    psarhjinian: Cops and cabbies, in their turn, are going to have to stop hopping curbs with impunity and follow the rules of the road like the rest of us.

    Quite often, police officers need a vehicle that is durable enough to hop curbs because their customers don’t “follow the rules of the road like the rest of us“. Those of you proposing the use of other vehicles might want to keep that in mind.

    If the durability of the Crown Victoria is lost, it’ll be a sad day for law enforcement. The move to SUVs is a response to the lack of durability and space offered by the likes of the Impala and Taurus, but an SUV is a poor substitute for a large, BOF car. The only current competitor to the Crown Victoria is the Charger, and aside from its durability and space concerns, its future is in doubt. The Carbon Motors E7 is at least two years away from production, and its future is far from certain. GM is thinking about reviving the Caprice, but given their track record, who knows what that means.

    The next few years will be very interesting for police fleet managers. Unless Ford changes their minds (again), the forced migration to a variety of questionable options will be a difficult one.


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