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GM confirms more Holden cop car deliveries

Law enforcer: At least two North American police departments in Georgia and Iowa have taken delivery of the Adelaide-built Chevrolet Caprice PPV.

Chev delivers Holdens to police in Georgia and Iowa – and US citizens in Maryland

Chevrolet logo11 Jul 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

CHEVROLET has revealed first details of Holden’s US police car export program just days after it emerged that a number of unmarked Commodore-based detective vehicles were sold to private US citizens, but remains tight-lipped about exact sales numbers.

US website Jalopnik recently reported that a Maryland car dealer had sold a small number of Holden’s Australian-made Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV) to local individuals after advertising a total of 13 modified Detective vehicles for sale on its website.

Last week General Motors told Automotive News it had closed a legal loophole that allowed dealers like Criswell Chevrolet to sell PPVs to non-governmental customers, and that it was not aware of any other Chevrolet dealers selling the Caprice-based sedan to the public.

The following day (July 5), Chevrolet announced that at least two North American police departments in Georgia and Iowa had taken delivery of the Adelaide-built PPV – the only V8-powered passenger car in the Chevrolet range aside from the Corvette sportscar and the Holden-engineered Camaro.

GM said the sheriff of Georgia’s Forsyth County, Ted Paxton, was so impressed with the 2011 Caprice PPV at a number of law enforcement demonstration events that he became one of the vehicle’s earliest adopters.

Sheriff Paxton took to the city of Cumming in his PPV in May and after the first month on patrol committed to replacing his county’s current fleet of about 175 vehicles with Caprice PPVs.

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“With its emphasis on the ergonomically designed seats for officer comfort, and enhanced safety features, the Caprice is a vehicle that is made for police work,” said Mr Paxton.

“We’ve had our vehicles for a month and we’re sold. This will be a worthwhile investment.”

GM also cited Dennis Hogan, the fleet services manager in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as saying he would purchase the Caprice PPV, but did not reveal any numbers.

“We view the police vehicle as an extended office for our officers,” said Mr Hogan. “We chose the Caprice because it delivers optimal officer operational space, trunk and storage space, and generally provides our officers the most suitable operating environment.”

Last month Holden confirmed the first 23 examples of its modified long-wheelbase left-hand drive sedan were sold in the US in May, from an unspecified shipment of unmarked detective-spec vehicles that set sail from Adelaide in February.

A second shipment – this time comprising marked patrol cars – left Australia in late April and was scheduled to become available to police via US Chevrolet dealers by the end of June, following a pre-delivery fit-out process on arrival in California.

However, despite the fact the Caprice PPV represents the company’s first US exports since GM killed off its historic Pontiac brand – and Holden’s Commodore SS-based Pontiac G8 – in 2009, Holden will not reveal how many examples it has produced or shipped to date, because it is “just the supplier”.

“While we are unable to comment on numbers of vehicles and where they are headed (as we are just a supplier, Chevrolet is the owner of the program), they are currently in production at the plant and en route to the US,” said GM Holden’s South Australian corporate affairs manager Melanie Kerin.

A GM spokesperson told GoAuto that PPV sales were in line with expectations, but stressed that first examples of the volume-selling patrol version had only been shipped to US dealers in late June.

“Our orders are on target with our projected volume for the Caprice and we are pleased with customer response,” said Pam Flores from GM Communications Fleet and Commercial Operations.

“We don’t provide monthly projections for competitive reasons or discuss orders publicly.

“I can confirm that we have been delivering more of the lower-volume detective 9C3, and the higher-volume patrol 9C1 has started shipping to dealers at the end of last month.

“We are still in the initial launch phase of the Chevrolet Caprice PPV and anticipate that we will be able to provide more information about the many customers anxious to purchase the Caprice PPV, a rear-wheel drive police vehicle that delivers the performance, comfort and safety needed by today’s police departments.”

Ms Kerin described the strength of the Australian currency, which makes imports more profitable at the expense of exports, as “more challenging” for Holden’s Caprice export program.

“Regarding the impact of the foreign exchange rate on the program, it is more challenging with a higher Aussie dollar, but the program is one we take a long-term view of and are committed to,” she said.

The Chevrolet PPV program kicked off in July 2009 under then GM Holden chief Mark Reuss, with first prototypes built in March 2010.

Michigan state police tests in September 2010 marked the first in a series of demonstration events, including scrutiny by the LA County Sheriff’s Department in November 2010 and a national ‘Ride and Drive’ road show that took in 18 cities and 1500 drivers between November and January.

The Caprice PPV performed well against its major rivals (Ford’s Taurus and Dodge’s Charger) in most tests and, as of December last year, nine police departments including California, Michigan and Florida had requested tender contract documents for the Australian car.

The rear-drive Caprice PPV joins Chevrolet’s front-drive Impala and all-wheel drive Tahoe in GM’s law enforcement vehicle stable, which according to the bow-tie brand makes it the only maker to offer a full line of specialised police vehicles.

Holden began producing retail versions of the Detective PPV alongside the Commodore at Elizabeth in January, before which Mr Reuss had touted Holden’s prospects for the Caprice PPV following the demise of Ford’s aged Crown Victoria, which for decades had dominated a market that totals up to 80,000 US law enforcement vehicles.

While first shipments left Adelaide in February, the first PPV patrol cars entered production alongside the Commodore and localised Cruze small sedan in March, with shipments leaving in April and first US deliveries beginning in May and June.

Holden’s US-spec Caprice PPV – which is expected to be followed by a Commodore-based civilian model within a few years – is powered by a 265kW/521Nm E85 ethanol-compatible 6.0-litre V8.

A less powerful but more efficient 3.6-litre V6 version will follow, also fitted with sculpted front seats (designed to accommodate gun belts), an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat trimmed in high-wear material and protected by a seat-back security panel.

Other equipment comprises a full-width prisoner partition, front-only side and head curtain airbags, electronic stability control, 18-inch steel wheels with bolt-on centre caps and wheel covers, a certified 180mph analogue speedometer and a ‘Driver Information Center’ with a “Trap Speed” feature to capture speed when tracking other vehicles.

Rear accommodation consists of a grey cloth-upholstered bench seat and rubber flooring, while optional extras include a vinyl rear seat and floor coverings, an auxiliary battery to power police equipment and a full-size spare tyre under a flat rear cargo floor.

The detective version’s gear lever is repositioned to the left in order to accommodate computer equipment, while the patrol car gets a column-mounted gear shifter.

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