2019 Chicago Auto Show: Ford’s $1 Billion Boosts Police Hybrids

February 08, 2019 by Alan Adler, @AlanAdler

Ford Motor Co. is investing $1 billion in its Chicago assembly and stamping plants and will add 500 jobs to build three new SUVs, including its industry-leading Police Interceptor Utility.

Ford is dedicating production to the new Explorer, the Lincoln Aviator and the Interceptor. The latest makeover removes the last visage of the once industry-leading Taurus sedan. It also comes at a time when consumers are favoring light trucks – a category that includes pickups, SUVs and crossovers and accounted for 68 percent of industry vehicle sales in 2018.

Police Business

Ford has a 60 percent share of law enforcement business, based on IHS Markit registration data. The current Police Interceptor Utility accounted for more than half of all police vehicles sold in 2017, Ford said.

Its law-and-order lineup includes a Police Responder Hybrid Sedan, F-150 Police Responder, Expedition Special Service Vehicle, Transit Prisoner Transport Vehicle and Plug-In Hybrid Sedan Special Service Vehicle.

The new hybrid SUV with a 3.3-liter EcoBoost engine gets an estimated 24 miles per gallon on regular fuel. It can travel more than 500 miles between fill-ups. An electric motor integrated into the driveline improves performance over the standard 3.7-liter engine in the current Interceptor.

The first pursuit-rated hybrid police utility could avoid $3,500 to $5,700 per vehicle annually in fuel costs versus the current model, based on gasoline prices of $2.75 to $4.50 a gallon, the company said. Applying those savings to every Police Interceptor Utility sold in 2017 would equate to $118 million to $193 million – more than 43 million gallons of fuel.

Chicago, which purchases Interceptors because they are built on the city’s South Side, could save more than $9 million a year based on an estimated 41 percent improvement in fuel efficiency, Ford said.

“It’s good for their operating budgets, and the secondary benefit to the environment is outstanding,” said Bill Gubing, chief engineer of the Explorer and the Interceptor.

Ford used to rule the police car market with the Crown Victoria rear-wheel drive sedan. It switched to a front-drive Taurus-based cruiser and offered a specially equipped version of the previous generation Explorer as an alternative.

Fast and Tough

The new hybrid Interceptor is certified to withstand a 75-mph rear impact. Its rear load floor holds 800 pounds of gear. Factory-installed blue and red LED lights make aftermarket installations unnecessary.

The hybrid has a top-speed rating of 142 mph. In public testing by the Michigan State Police, it reached 137 mph.

“The most important metric is 0-100 time,” Gubing said. “You want to end the chase before it gets out of control.”

A non-hybrid Interceptor with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost engine and 400 horsepower has a top-speed rating of 148 mph. It hit 150 mph in the Michigan testing.

“That is the high-speed shootout car,” Gubing said. “You are ready for action and you’ll get anywhere real fast.”

Chicago Assembly is Ford’s oldest continually operating plant. The legendary Model T was built there beginning in 1924.

Read Next: 2019 Detroit Auto Show: Ford’s 2020 Explorer Most Powerful Ever

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