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Ford US cop car decision looms

Boys in blue: Ford is expected to nominate its Taurus for its next police car program.

Ford’s new US police pursuit car will not be made Down Under

Ford logo4 Dec 2009

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in LOS ANGELES

FORD Motor Co has confirmed that a decision will be made within months on the future of its North American police car program.

Declining to reveal if Ford Australia would have a role in the vehicle's development, Ford’s global marketing vice-president Jim Farley ruled out an Australian export program in competition with Holden’s police pursuit car export plans for its Adelaide-made Chevrolet Caprice which went on display at the LA show.

“Obviously what GM Holden has done with the fleet car here in the US – we don’t have any intentions to export to the US,” Mr Farley told GoAuto at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

“We don’t have any news to give to you today, but I can tell you now that it is still a very important market for us.

“We made a press announcement recently (stating that) we will have an uninterrupted police (car) solution for North America, and the vehicle will be introduced soon.” Asked if this police car would involve Ford Australia, Mr Farley was coy in his response: “I can’t tell you – until we actually come out with the actual product I can’t give you any information – nice try though! “And it will be within the next 12 months.” The interceptor in question will most probably be a specially modified version of the front or all-wheel-drive MY2010 Ford Taurus that has just been released in the US.

27 center imageFrom top: Ford Crown Victoria Police vehicle, civilian Crown Victoria and WM Statesman-based Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle.

It will replace the ageing Ford Crown Victoria – the full-frame rear-wheel-drive four-door sedan that has not seen a significant update since 1992.

Accounting for 45,000 out of the 60,000 police vehicles sold each year in the US, the Crown Victoria will go out of production at Ford’s St Thomas plant in Canada from 2011.

The official announcement on the Crown Victoria replacement will be made in the first quarter of next year, Ford said in a press release in mid November, “… in time for law enforcement agencies, police equipment manufacturers and upfitters to develop a transition plan from the Crown Victoria to the new product”.

Ford almost has had a monopoly on the US police car market – as well as much of the large-car rental market – since General Motors stopped producing the similarly configured Chevrolet Caprice in 1997.

However, a war appears to be brewing for the police-car dollar in North America now that GM has announced its intention to return.

In early October, GM revealed that it would supply vehicles to the US police force using a variation of the Australian engineered and built, Middle East-specification Chevrolet Caprice – or Holden WM Statesman.

An example in full police force livery was even on display at the 2009 LA Auto Show.

Chrysler, too, has been eroding at Ford’s police vehicle domination over the last three years with a specially modified Charger – a rebodied version of the rear-wheel drive Chrysler 300C.

In the light of these competitors and volumes, it has always seemed extremely unlikely that Ford Australia has had the resources to be in the running to produce and export the sorts of numbers needed to satiate US police force appetites.

Sealing the Falcon’s fate is the fact that the FG has not been engineered for left-hand drive – and this more than anything else will most likely keep the Australian Ford out of US police-force contention for this generation of Falcon.

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