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Police car rivalry is about speed — and gas savings

By Greg Gardner

Do you have good ‘feng shui’ energy in your car?

Which cars have had the biggest gas mileage increases?

Selling police cars used to be all about big engines, maximum horsepower and getting to the bad guys before they could wreak more havoc, but now Ford is marketing the gas-saving potential of its new Taurus and Explorer Police Interceptor packages.

A recent study of several Canadian police departments in Ontario found the average police car spends two-thirds of an average 10-hour shift idling. That translates to a waste of more than six gallons over two shifts each day.

“Our latest fuel-efficient V-6 engines deliver on our promise for increased performance and improved fuel economy,” said Bill Gubing, chief engineer of Ford’s police vehicle program.

Ford took a risk last year when it stopped producing the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor and replaced it with the Taurus and Explorer:

The Crown Victoria consistently captured about 70% of the police car market in the U.S. Its robust V-8 engine could always be counted on to outrun the most reckless suspect.

“Our extensive experience with the Crown Victoria and feedback from our Police Advisory Board helped us develop the next-generation Police Interceptor to be a no-compromise vehicle,” said Lisa Teed, marketing manager for both the Taurus and Explorer PI.

The 3.5-liter Taurus and Explorer engine gets 35% better mileage than the Crown Vic’s 4.6-liter V-8 and the 3.7-liter does 32% better.

At $4 a gallon, that equates to an annual savings of $153,300 for a department with 100 vehicles, according to Ford.

Competitors are trying to pry business away from law enforcement agencies that still feel an attachment to their Crown Vics. Chevrolet is reintroducing a Caprice police car, and Dodge is winning significant business with its redesigned Charger police car.

Ford offers three V-6 engines in the new law enforcement versions of Taurus and Explorer: a 3.5-liter conventional V-6 that gets 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway; a more powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 that is certified for 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway; and finally a 3.7-liter V-6 for the Explorer Police Interceptor with EPA ratings of 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. That compares with the 2011 Crown Vic’s 14/21 mpg breakdown for city and highway.

It’s not just about squeezing more horsepower from smaller engines. Ford’s police powertrains use electric power-assisted steering. No energy is burned until the driver turns the steering wheel. Ford engineers also tweaked the air-conditioning compressor and alternator to further minimize idle gas consumption.

Police car rivalry is about speed — and gas savings

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