Ford has beefed up its Fusion Hybrid to make if the first hybrid police cruiser in America. There was a time when the full size Ford Crown Victoria was the most popular choice for police departments, government agencies, and taxi companies. Hundreds of thousands of those hulking beasts used to crisscross the highways and byways of America, burning up a gallon of gasoline every 10 miles or so and spewing carbon emissions in their wake. After the Crown Vic went out of production, Ford’s share of the police vehicle market plummeted.
Called the Responder Hybrid Sedan, this hybrid police cruiser has a two liter four cylinder engine coupled to an electric motor and a small battery pack. It can go up to 60 mph briefly in electric mode or patrol silently for longer periods with the engine off. Once the driver prods the go pedal, though, the gas engine springs into life to provide maximum acceleration as the car goes into “pursuit mode.” Ford engineers recalibrated the regenerative braking so it aggressively charges the battery whenever the vehicle slows down.
This is no ordinary Fusion. Ford beefed up the suspension and added extra cooling capacity to survive the punishing needs of police work. The reworked chassis was driven at speed over 8 inch high curbs and across railroad tracks. It was fine tuned during thousands of miles of high speed and handling tests. Its brakes were punished with repeated high speed emergency stops. It is now the first every “pursuit rated” hybrid police cruiser.
Police cruisers need other modifications — bullet proof doors, steel plates inside the front seat backs to prevent miscreants from stabbing the officers while being transported to jail, and wider than normal seats so all that extra gear cops carry around will fit comfortably. An easy to clean rear seat is also a requirement for obvious reasons. The cars even come with a pre-drilled hole for mounting a spotlight.
The Fusion Hybrid police cruiser is rated at 38 mpg in combined highway and city driving. The only time a Crown Victoria ever got 38 mpg was when it was on the way down after driving over a really high cliff. Each hybrid car could save police departments up to $3,800 a year in fuel costs. Regenerative braking reduces brake wear, lowering maintenance costs. The onboard battery can power communications equipment and computers without running the engine, saving even more fuel.
“Patrol vehicles are a police officer’s office,” LAPD chief Carlie Beck says. “We expect them to not only be economically and environmentally efficient but also an effective tool for fighting crime in major metropolitan areas.”