Ford’s Police Advisory Board (PAB) met in February to start its fourth year. After serving a three-year term, this was the last appearance of some critically influential and knowledgeable charter members.
During the charter term, the PAB provided design input regarding the Ford CVPI seats and seatbelts and wiring harness. They also helped to clarify and emphasize top speed and acceleration needs. The 250 hp Ford CVPI is now as fast as the benchmark 260 hp Chevrolet Caprice.
The original PAB members also provided feedback and strategy regarding the CVPI safety record, including being some of the conduit to relay improvements from the Officer Safety Action Plan. Finally, PAB members reviewed (first-hand) the durability testing protocol and gave advice for additional testing requirements to better match typical during conditions.
The PAB meets between two and three times a year with representatives from sales, service, engineering and manufacturing. These are hands-on, high priority meetings. In February, for example, the quality assurance manager from the St. Thomas Assembly Plant was there. The executive director of Ford’s North American Fleet, Lease and Remarketing Operations was there. Of course, everyone from Ford Fleet associated with the police platform was on hand. This is a two-day decision-making meeting where important topics affecting the CVPI are treated seriously.
The PAB meeting is built upon a two-way dialogue and free exchange of information. Fleet managers meet among themselves a couple of times. Ford Fleet explains some new features, asks some questions, and raises some issues. Then the fleet managers get a turn to be heard.
Contact information for PAB members is posted on Ford’s Web site and is listed at the back of the police product brochure. A significant role of PAB members is to relay information and act as representatives for police and sheriff’s departments not on the board. Please contact any of these PAB members to voice problems, concerns or suggestions. The next PAB meeting is the last week in June.
Everyone involved realizes that the PAB members share some goals with Ford Fleet and also have sharply different goals in other areas. The PAB members express their needs, sense of urgency, and anticipated number of police vehicles to receive this change. Some requests from a state police or highway patrol may have a different volume or priority than from an urban department.
Ford Fleet then collects additional information, determines what is involved in the change and the costs. When everyone has their homework done, then comes the big question... is there still interest at a particular estimated cost?
About half the time in the PAB meetings is spent discussing product improvements, new ideas, concepts and future products. Virtually every PAB meeting includes a discussion about CVPI performance. The bump to 250 horsepower and the increase to a 3.55 ratio have satisfied nearly all the urban police and sheriff’s departments. The state police and highway patrols, however, remain interested in more horsepower or larger engines, and more top speed. All of this at no upcharge and running on regular fuel, of course.
The PAB is frequently asked to provide input and guidance on future projects. One such project is a 17-inch wheel, specifically to get more cooling to the brakes. The Crown Victoria Sport, for example, uses 17-inch wheels while the Marauder uses 18-inch wheels. The change to 17-inch wheels is being proposed for the 2007 model year.
Moving the shocks outboard to improve the handling for the 2003 model year caused the brake caliper to sit deeper inside the wheel. With the brakes farther out of the air stream, they retain more heat. Brake pads are compromised between stopping power and service life, and trapped heat hurts braking performance. The change to 17-inch wheels, with no cost impact, provides more efficient brake cooling and longer pad life.
Of course, this means another wheel and tire changeover, just like the transition from 15-inch wheels to 16-inch wheels in 1998, and the change to deep-offset wheels in 2003. However, this is currently seen as the only way to avoid a redesign of the rear suspension or the entire brake package.
At this point, tire availability became the focus of discussion. Well over 90% of the police tires used today are from Goodyear. Other police-spec tires are available from General, BFGoodrich and Firestone. Tire manufacturers who may be involved in a suitable 17-inch tire in this load and speed rating include Goodyear and Pirelli. Pirelli is a major OEM supplier to the retail Crown Victoria, the 2005 Mustang GT and Ford Five Hundred sedan. Initial development may proceed with an existing Pirelli tire. Their P-Zero Nero (used on the Mustang) is a high-performance all-season tire that may already be suitable for police work.
This change also starts the hunt for a suitable 17-inch, speed-rated snow tire. Most of the northern police fleets in the United States and all of the Canadian fleets run snow tires, on all four wheels. A snow tire is a must, even if it means running on the current 16-inch wheels under (obviously) cooler ambient conditions. Ford Fleet took all of these fleet manager comments and concerns and will incorporate them into the decision-making and development process.
Hour Meter and Perimeter Alarm
Another product Ford Fleet asked the PAB to make a decision on was an hour meter integrated into the odometer. The hour meter will track engine idle time, not engine operating time. This was a request from the PAB at an earlier meeting.
One hour of idling equals 33 miles. The hour meter is not intended for routine maintenance needs, although it can certainly be used for that. Simply add the odometer miles to the calculated miles from idling to get the total. That may be tedious for routine maintenance.
Instead, the hour meter is intended to help justify a more rational vehicle replacement policy. A police car with 75,000 miles on the odometer, and 750 hours of idling on the hour meter, has the equivalent of 100,000 miles on the engine.
Another use is for any police or sheriff’s department that bills its police services to anyone based on patrol miles. Whether guarding a bridge on a Homeland Security detail, or providing any other contracted service, the hour meter helps. A six-mile round trip to the detail, and eight hours of idling, is 270 miles. A clear majority of PAB members were in favor of this device at a $25 increase to the base vehicle. Ford Fleet has decided this will be standard equipment on the 2006 model year CVPI.
In some cases, the PAB recommendation comes easily. Should the optional AM/FM radio with cassette be changed to the optional AM/FM radio with CD? Yes. Look for it in the 2006 model year. Should climate control be offered in the trunk? No. Two of the already available Police Prep packages have trunk ventilation, if needed. How about auto-locking and auto-unlocking? Definitely not. We certainly do not want all four doors to unlock when the driver’s door is opened from the inside.
Should the driver door module be upgraded to include a perimeter alarm for $125? With this system, an alarm will sound when the decklid, doors or hood are opened. The PAB said, Yes, but it must work with the car running and all four doors locked. That was a requirement not built into the software, and possibly conflicting with other driver door module features. Ford Fleet will investigate the PAB requirement. This could be available on the 2006 CVPI.
Some of these decisions and recommendations were very difficult and complex. The availability of laminated side glass on the CVPI is one such example. The availability of Threat Level 4 ballistic door panels is another example. Having received a great deal of input from the PAB, those decisions are now in the hands of Ford Fleet.
The two-day PAB meeting also included action items from the previous meeting. Ford Fleet has decided not to pursue a night vision option on the CVPI, due to limited demand. They have decided not to offer a plastic (bio) rear seat, due to the wide diversity of individual applications. And the built-in Dell computer? Ford Fleet and Dell are still developing product needs, working around airbag deployment zones, and investigating the logistics of the installation.
Fire Suppression System
Ford is in the process of finalizing an on-board fire suppression system as an option for the 2005 model year CVPI. The system is being developed with Aerojet, a supplier to the U.S. military. This technology was originally developed for the interior of armored personnel carriers. It has two suppressant agent tanks and four dispersion nozzles mounted under the trunk between the gas tank and the sheet metal of the rear seat.
The fire suppression system senses the impact but does not trigger the system until the ABS system indicates the wheels have stopped moving. That way the agent is dispersed at the point of rest, which may be hundreds of feet from the point of impact. A protected switch mounted near the dome light may also manually activate the system.
The CVPI with the optional fire suppression system will have a full, rear bench seat. The system pricing has not yet been established since the design is not finalized. At the (confidential) estimated cost of the unit, none of the fleet managers said they would definitely order this option. A few indicated that they would talk with their administration and advise later.
The point is, in spite of the hype in the press, the vast majority of police fleet managers already think the CVPI is safe. Proof of this is a mere 15% take-rate of the $190 KEVLAR® lined Trunk Pack™. The fire suppression system is many times that cost.
Contact PAB Members
The PAB members are your direct line to both Ford Fleet and the St. Thomas Assembly Plant. Would you like a prestamped hole in the firewall large enough to pull a wiring loom through? That is the kind of request the PAB can both raise to the correct people at Ford, and track all the way through the approval and production processes. Contact any one of the members via phone or e-mail, or e-mail Ed Sanow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upgrade Kit for CVPI
According to Ford Fleet, as of February 2004, up to 25% of the 1992 to 2003 CVPIs have NOT been upgraded with rear shields around the differential and suspension components. This is based on their estimates of the total number of CVPIs in operation compared to the total number of upgrade kits produced.
The upgrade kit includes plastic protective shrouds to be placed around sharp components to reduce the risk of those components puncturing the fuel tank in high-speed rear crashes.
The kit is available at no charge to the department for either the parts or the installation. The program is voluntary. The installation takes about one-half hour.
Regardless of your patrol environment, regardless of the time your patrol cars are exposed to freeway traffic speeds, get your CVPI upgraded!