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US police forces ready to nab Caprice

Flog it: A Chevrolet Caprice PPV being put through its paces by a police officer in the US.

Nine US states named by Holden as likely customers for Chevrolet Caprice cop car

13 Dec 2010

POLICE departments in at least nine US states – including some of the biggest such as California, Michigan and Florida – have requested tender contract documents for the Holden-made Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV) that is set to go into production next year.

Although that does not mean definite sales of the purpose-built police sedan based on the Holden Caprice, GM Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux said he was expecting orders for “thousands and thousands and thousands” of the vehicles.

Chevrolet has been showing off prototype Caprice PPVs to police forces in a 20-city ‘ride and drive’ whistle-stop tour of the US, with heartening feedback about the two versions of the car – a bells and whistles patrol vehicle and a plain detective car.

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“We are not in a position to disclose the number of orders in the system at this time, but we’re confident the number of orders will continue to ramp up in the New Year as we complete the road show and start taking orders for the much higher-volume patrol model,” said Mr Devereux.

Mr Devereux named California, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan and North Carolina as among the states to request tender documents.

“They are all actually tendering with us right now and we are taking orders as we speak,” he said in Melbourne last week at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia event.

Mr Devereux – who would not discuss the potential for a ‘civilian’ version of the Caprice for North America – said GM knew it had a superior police patrol product, not just by its own estimates but from official comparative testing with police fleets.

“We have completed, for example, our competitive testing with the Michigan state and LA Sheriff Departments and we expect to see those results in the first quarter,” he said.

Mr Devereux said one of the Chevrolet ride days, in Colorado, had been held in such horrendous weather conditions that the test track surface was awash and that witches’ hats set up to create a slalom course had been blown away.

“But the customers loved it and said if the car could perform as well as it did under those adverse conditions, they knew it would excel on clear, dry pavement,” he said.

Mr Devereux conceded that the strong Australian dollar against the US greenback was putting pressure on the deal because forward planning was based on an exchange rate of 80-something cents to the US dollar.

“As (federal industry) minister Kim Carr said, the government does its economic sums with an eight on the front, and so do we,” he said.

“Having a nine on the front certainly squeezes our business in the short term, but we never approach export programs like day traders.

“We develop these programs for the long haul and the tight exchange situation only further reinforces our need to have a profitable domestic business model.

“Does it stop us pursuing other export opportunities? Absolutely not.”

Mr Devereux said most US police vehicles had a column-mounted shifter for the automatic transmission, but Holden had overcome this shortcoming by moving the console-mounted shifter 70mm to the side to make way for police equipment to be mounted on the console.

He said this had been well-accepted by the US police test drivers.

American law enforcement departments buy about 70,000 vehicles a year.

Ford, whose Crown Victoria police vehicle is set to go out of production, hopes to counter the Chev and Chrysler police car entrants with an all-wheel-drive Taurus interceptor powered by a V6 272kW/474Nm EcoBoost twin-turbo engine.

According to American reports, the Taurus was faster around the LA Sheriff’s test track than the 272kW/ 521Nm 6.0-litre V8 Chev Caprice PPV.

Production of the Caprice PPV starts at Holden’s Elizabeth plant with the detective car in the New Year, to be followed by the V8 interceptor and then a V6 police patrol car that is now under development.

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