Ford plans to further expand its role in the police-vehicle market with the availability of a new model in 2018: the Police Responder Hybrid, a sedan based on the standard Fusion Hybrid that Ford says not only should save police departments significant fuel cost but also is the first-ever hybrid model to earn a “pursuit” rating.
Police departments using the new Police Responder Hybrid could reap fuel savings of nearly $3,900 annually based on a police duty-cycle formula that reckons a typical vehicle idles more than 60% of the time it’s operating during about 20,000 miles of annual driving.
“Operating costs are a big deal,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president for the Americas, at a New York unveiling of the Police Responder Hybrid prior to the New York auto show.
The Police Responder Hybrid counts as one of the 13 new electrified vehicles Ford has famously promised to add to its global lineup in the next five years. The company also announced earlier this year that it will by 2020 develop hybrid-electric variants of two high-profile nameplates—the F-150 pickup and the Mustang musclecar.
Arie Groenveld, Ford chief program engineer for police programs, said the Police Responder Hybrid’s powertrain is unchanged from the standard Fusion Hybrid; the front wheels are driven by a 2.0-L gasoline engine and permanent-magnet AC synchronous motor that combine for 188 total horsepower, while a 1.4-kW lithium-ion battery pack supplies the drive motor and receives energy recovered from braking. He said the pursuit rating entails different programming regimes for transmission shift points and battery recharging.
Although Ford said the Police Responder Hybrid is the first HEV to earn a pursuit rating, the standards for pursuit may not be as demanding as one might imagine. The car’s projected 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) time is about 8.9 s—roughly the same as the circa 2011 Crown Victoria, once a mainstay of police forces across the nation—but it’s not expected to be good for sustained speed much in excess of 100 mph (161 km/h).
There is more to pursuit that acceleration and speed, however: Ford said that its collaboration with police-testing programs run by the Michigan State Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department requires vehicles to withstand impacts with 8-in (20-cm) curbs and to traverse railroad tracks at 30 mph (48 km/h) and flooded intersections with water depths up to 18 in (46 cm). Heavy-duty suspension and 17-in brake rotors also help bring the vehicle to police standards; Groenveld said police testing does not dictate a minimum ride height to achieve the performance and durability goals, but noted the vehicle does have a 0.5 in (1.3-cm) increased ride height.
Groenveld said the Police Responder Hybrid suspension modifications are “very similar to what we do with the standard Police Interceptor.” He added that the base vehicle is built in its home assembly plant then is shipped to a secondary location for police-duty modification.
Downplaying pursuit characteristics, Ford said its newest police vehicle is “ideal for urban patrolling.” In that role, the vehicle appears ready-made for cost-cutting. The company said the Police Responder Hybrid’s EPA combined fuel economy rating is 38 mpg, better than twice the 17-mpg combined rating of today’s Taurus-based Police Interceptor sedan. That kind of upgrade in fuel economy brings a cost payback for the new Police Responder Hybrid to just about one year, said Hinrichs, as well as enabling more vehicle “uptime” thanks to fewer trips to the fuel pump.
“We’re proud of this (police) business,” said Hinrichs. “And as long as you’re not riding in one, they look great,” he added. Ford said it currently supplies about 63% of the country’s law-enforcement vehicle demand.