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Hyundai, Toyota usurp Ford police SUVs in Victoria

Give it arrest: As Australian car manufacturing facilities wind down, police forces around the country are ramping up their search for imported patrol and pursuit vehicles.

Imported SUVs replace locally made Ford Territory as Victoria Police refreshes fleet

10 Feb 2017

UPDATED: 13/02/2017AUSTRALIAN made patrol cars will soon disappear from the Victorian police fleet, with the Ford Territory SUV – that ceased production last October – first to be replaced by imported models from Hyundai and Toyota.

Victoria Police transport branch manager Frank Melilli told GoAuto the force has 30 Hyundai Santa Fes on order for delivery in March and April this year, along with 60 Toyota Klugers.

Mr Melilli said these imports will replace Ford Territorys that will be phased out of police service at the end of their lease cycle, which under police policy lasts three years or 60,000 kilometres.

Both Hyundai and Toyota will supply Victoria Police with cars that have been fitted with a police pack at the factory including upgraded brake pads, and a special wiring loom with dual battery system for powering the additional lights, sirens and electronic crime-fighting equipment.

Victoria Police has specified diesel engines for the Santa Fe, which are only available with all-wheel-drive in Australia.

GoAuto understands all-wheel-drive variants of the petrol-only Kluger had to be specified by Victoria Police because front-drive versions did not match up to handling requirements.

Toyota Australia product public relations manager Stephen Coughlan told GoAuto the company is currently developing a package for all-wheel-drive Klugers that “specifically meets police requirements”.

Mr Coughlan added that around 20 Klugers were sold to various state and territory police forces last year, including handful to Victoria.

Since the announcement that Ford, Holden and Toyota would cease Australian manufacturing, police forces around the country have been seeking replacements for the locally made cars they had been using.

Locally made rear-drive sedans such as the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore were obvious choices for highway patrol and pursuit purposes but for general duties, government guidelines favour domestic vehicles including the Toyota Camry and Aurion, Holden Cruze and Ford Territory.

However where there is no suitable locally produced model, police are free to seek imported vehicles.

For example, New South Wales Police uses Hyundai iLoad vans and Queensland Police Service has a fleet of Isuzu D-Max one-tonne utes converted to ‘divvy’ vans.

Mr Coughlan told GoAuto that Toyota already supplied much of its imported range to police departments across Australia, including the LandCruiser 200 Series, 70 Series and Prado, plus HiLux utes in 4x2 and 4x4 configuration.

“A small number of RAV4, Corolla, Coaster, HiAce and Tarago have also been sold to police departments nationally,” he said.

Hyundai Australia general manager of external affairs Bill Thomas revealed to GoAuto that in Queensland a special version of the Sonata mid-size sedan has been adopted by police, based on the entry-level Active trim but fitted with the punchy 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine from more upmarket variants.

“That is a model specially built by the factory in Ulsan … a model we don’t sell anywhere else,” he said.

“It’s good to see this flexibility from the factory for substantial orders.”

Mr Thomas also confirmed that Tasmania Police has already begun replacing the Territory with a small number of Santa Fe patrol cars.

Meanwhile, Holden has confirmed the imported 2018 Commodore will be offered in police-friendly specification and that forces have shown early interest in the model.

Another car grabbing police interest is the rear-drive Kia Stinger sedan that was unveiled at the Detroit motor show last month and is available with a powerful twin-turbo V6 engine.

Kia Motors Australia general manager of media and corporate communications Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto that the Korean car-maker has received requests for information about the Stinger from the police forces of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.

Mr Hepworth added that New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia are also looking at the Sorento large SUV as a potential Territory replacement.

He said Victoria Police has also considered the Sorento, but that Kia had declined at the time to supply it in the exact specification requested.

“It certainly has not stopped the car’s potential for general duties in other states,” he said.

“We are keen to get them into the police force so we will be doing what we can to facilitate their requirements.”

Police forces are also evaluating vehicles from luxury brands such as Infiniti and BMW.

While expensive models dressed in police livery have proved useful for community relations and awareness building, their use as everyday enforcement vehicles is a sensitive subject owing to the relatively high purchase price and potential public backlash over officers travelling in aspirational cars.

However, the world of undercover policing and unmarked highway patrol cars extends into a broad variety of brands and models but for obvious reasons, accurate information about these is scarce.

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