San Francisco drivers should get ready to train their eyes to spot a new police car, as the San Francisco Police Department has decided to replace the venerable Ford Crown Victoria with the new Ford Police Interceptor. SFPD will begin replacing its 300-car fleet of black and white patrol cars as soon as a nearby dealer exhausts its stock of Crown Vics, says SFPD Public Information Officer Albie Esparza.
The Panther Platform Crown Victoria dominated the police service market since Chevrolet killed the full-size rear wheel drive Caprice in 1996, and Ford enjoyed nealy universal dominance in the sector until it shot down Panther production in 2011. On September 15, 2011, the last one of Ford’s iconic grandpa/police cars rolled of the assembly line, destined for export to Saudi Arabia. Given the abysmal fuel mileage of the V8 powered body-on-frame monster, it’s only appropriate that it ends up in the hands of an oil sheik.
Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler all have new entries in the police fleet market, and they are vying to replace aging ‘Vickies with their brand of faster, more efficient and customizable police cruisers. Ford won out in San Francisco with its new Taurus-based Police Interceptor.
“The review and evaluation of new police vehicle performance is conducted at the Michigan State Police and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office, says Officer Esparza. “After conducting our own review and evaluation of the new police vehicles, the Department has chosen to replace the Ford Crown Victoria with the Ford Interceptor. Considering fuel consumption, the Ford Interceptor is equipped with a V6 engine compared to the V8 engine in the Ford Crown Victoria. Driver familiarity to vehicle controls, access and equipment location were important factors in deciding which vehicle to select.”
All of the new vehicles will be Flex Fuel equipped so they will be able to run on either gasoline or cleaner burning E85 ethanol. E85 fueling infrastructure is not sufficient to fuel the fleet right now, so don’t expect police cars to be running on corn juice in San Francisco any time soon.
Ford claims that the 263 horsepower 3.5 liter (base) V6 is up to 25% more efficient the outgoing Vic’s 4.6 liter V8. The 365 HP, twin turbo EcoBoost V6 is also available in AWD trim for pursuit applications, but it is not clear if San Francisco will purchase any of the high-performance models.
While fuel economy is a big issue for cars that are pressed into 24/7 service, safety is also a huge concern for officers. “The Police Interceptor is engineered to pass 75-mph rear-end crash testing. The new Police Interceptor also features Ford’s exclusive Safety Canopy® side-curtain airbag rollover protection system to help protect front and rear outboard passengers in both rollover and side-impact crashes,” according to a Ford press release.
In an unexpected nod to the unwilling users of the back seat, Ford says the second row seats are specially sculpted to improve space and maximize legroom. Just because you are a criminal does not mean you have to be uncomfortable, right?
Of course, replacing the cars will not be free or cheap. Esparza says that the approximate cost of replacing a fully outfitted patrol car is $50,000 per vehicle, so it will cost about $5 million if the department was approved to replace a third of the fleet each year.
While it is sad to see the old Crown Victoria go, at least we did not end up with a fleet of Police Priuses crawling the streets.