Ford says hybrid police car catches bad guys, saves gas too

The Ford Motor Company says its new Police Responder hybrid sedan - a modified Ford Fusion - is the first "gasoline-electric" auto to be "pursuit rated", which means it can race through city streets and navigate crowded areas or high kerbs.

The pursuit-rated Fusions will join adapted police versions of the Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid Fusions already in service on the streets of New York City and other cities in non-pursuit roles.

Ford has been building police cars since 1920, when it offered cops a modified Model T. It now controls almost two thirds of the USA market with modified versions of the Taurus sedan and Explorer SUV.

Under the hood is an Atkinson-cycle, 2.0-liter I4, mated to an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery.

The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is based on the Ford Fusion Hybrid, but a number of changes have been made to fit it out for serious police work.

"Patrol vehicles are a police officer's office", said Charlie Beck, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, ahead of a morning announcement by the department and Ford.

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The Responder is a byproduct of Ford's $4.5 billion investment announced earlier this year in electric cars. The model started life as a standard Fusion Hybrid but underwent numerous changes to become a pursuit-rated hybrid police auto. The gas engine shuts down for four minutes at a time, while the electric motor continues to power the squad car's lights, laptop computer, radio and climate controls. It will restart to recharge the battery.

"Electrifying our next generation of vehicles is core to our unwavering commitment to sustainability", Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, said in a news release. In addition to polluting less, this means that the car's engine would see a significantly less amount of run hours and the police department would save fuel and money.

LAPD officials have not said how numerous vehicles the department will purchase and when they will go into service. LAPD units could be driving them by late 2018.

Ford is banking on finding a market for green vehicles among police chiefs buffeted by budget cuts. "Internally, you'll be surprised at how comparable they are", he said.

  • Patricia Jimenez