Foot in the door
US cops are impressed with our Caprice, writes Craig Duff
HOLDEN’S pursuit of the US police car business has resulted in early collars, but the company is still chasing deals with the larger law-enforcement fleets.
The Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle was put up against Ford’s ageing Crown Victoria and the new Dodge Charger in a series of on-road tests early this year and outpointed its US-built rivals in every aspect, from acceleration to braking and outright lap times.
That’s given the Commodore-based long-wheelbase car the early lead in the sales battle for a market that takes about 70,000 vehicles a year
Holden will build the Caprice PPV in Australia, with department-specific equipment requested by each police force fitted in the US. Holden spokesman Jonathan Rose says the company has had an encouraging reaction to its purpose-designed police vehicle, but is still looking to translate that into firm export orders.
‘‘We have received initial orders for the Caprice PPV, which is very exciting, but we’re not in a position to provide full details just yet,’’ he says.
‘‘The orders we have received so far are from the smaller law-enforcement agencies in the US.
‘‘We don’t expect to receive the larger fleet orders from departments such as Los Angeles and Michigan until the first quarter of next year. We have already started building pilot vehicles for testing and fleet marketing activities in North America and we will begin building cars for customer orders early in the new year.’’
The Caprice PPV is powered by V8 and V6 engines, though the V8s, rated at 265kW and 521Nm, were the ones tested in the Michigan Police Vehicle Evaluation trials, and it was the ethanol-boosted E85 version that performed best.
It is competing with the Crown Vic- toria Police Interceptor — which had been the backbone of the various police department’s vehicles — and the Charger Pursuit.
The Crown Victoria is being replaced next year by the Taurus Police Interceptor sedan, which will have two V6 engines — a 196kW/ 338Nm 3.5-litre V6 engine; and an all-wheel-drive model using a 3.5-litre EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 with 272kW/ 475Nm.
Holden and its parent company GM have invested considerable time and money to customise the Caprice PPV and an unmarked police equivalent for the US law-enforcement market.
The front seats have been specially designed to sculpt around police equipment belts, including the gun, Taser and handcuffs.
Trial units were fitted to vehicles for police to evaluate and the resulting shape, foam densities and hard-wearing fabric covers is a result of feedback from police on patrol.
The electronics, from stability control to ABS, have also been adapted and the side curtain airbags allow a full-width security screen to be fitted.
Comfort zone: the seats of the Chevrolet Caprice allow for gun belts. They are made from highwear material and have a seat back security panel for added support.