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Holden reports "huge interest" in its US cop car

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Holden reports "huge interest" in its US cop car


December 3, 2009 - 9:46AM

Holden says it is in the box seat to supply up to 70,000 police cars a year to the United States.

Holden is in the box seat to lock up lucrative contracts to supply up to 70,000 cars per year to United States police departments following "huge" interest in its long-wheelbase police car.

A prototype of the Holden Caprice V8 fitted with standard police equipment has been well received by police departments and police fleet buyers across the US and Canada, according to Chevrolet, the General Motors brand that will market the car in the US.

Mike Simcoe, the Australian-born former head of Holden's design department and now Chevrolet's design chief, said the car was being aggressively marketed to police departments and state authorities looking to update their police fleets.

"It was shown at a very big rally and they had about 150 police departments there. I don't know how many people drove the car but there was huge interest," Mr Simcoe said.

Ford's Crown Victoria sedan, the car of choice for decades for most US police departments, will be retired at the end of 2011. While large, powerful rear-wheel-drive vehicles continue to suffer declining private and fleet sales, they remain very much in demand for use as police patrol cars and pursuit vehicles.

"I imagine there would be a lot of interest in the (police) contracts from manufacturers with a large, V8-powered car; but there aren't too many of those around," Mr Simcoe said. "The competition has been the Ford Crown (Victoria) and that architecture is going out of manufacture so they may not have an alternative."

Ford global marketing vice-president Jim Farley said the company would offer up a replacement for the Crown Victoria "within the next 12 months". Ford says it has been working with law enforcement agencies on the new police car, dubbed the Interceptor, for the past 14 months. The Blue Oval currently supplies roughly 75 per cent of the country’s police cars.

But with no replacement yet available, the Blue Oval has give a significant head start to Holden and its GM counterpart, Chevrolet, which is marketing the car as the Chevrolet Caprice PPV (police pursuit vehicle). Chevrolet is milking the opportunity by aggressively marketing the prototype and offering test-drives at car shows and police events.

Mr Simcoe said Holden was the logical fit within General Motors' stable of brands to build a police car based on the Caprice, Holden's range-topping luxury model.

"Holden is the affordable rear-wheel-drive architecture. We have other performance architectures but they are targeted at Cadillac and above," he said.

A prototype fitted with police equipment including flashing lights, dispatch displays, a heavy-duty screen through the middle of the cabin and storage for police-issue guns and equipment is being show at this week's Los Angeles motor show.

Chevrolet says it can customise the Caprice PPV to meet individual police departments' needs, with options including a heavy-duty battery and high-output alternator to support the electric and computer equipment fitted to the car, seats contoured to fit officers wearing equipment belts that allow quick entrance and exits, specially calibrated stability control, a touch screen dispatch unit that doesn't interfere with airbag deployment and a full-width rear seat barrier.

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I hope this all goes well for GM, but isn't Zeta a unibody architecture? I thought that one of the major perks of the Crown Vic was that it was RWD, V8 powered, and BOF...someone please correct me if I'm wrong...

Yes, Zeta is unibody, but so is the LX platform--Charger. That hasn't stopped plenty of departments from buying them.

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