The Charger is the nation’s best-selling police sedan.
Chrysler Fleet Preview 2013
By: Police Fleet Manager Staff
In the shadow of Pike’s Peak, America’s Mountain and the inspiration for “America, the Beautiful,” the Chrysler Group conducted their annual Fleet Preview. Fleet managers, both private and public sector, had the opportunity to see and drive the latest vehicles. Chrysler Group has a wide variety of vehicles for government operations: Dodge, RAM, Jeep, Chrysler and FIAT.
The FIAT-Chrysler merger is now in its fourth year. FIAT is the seventh largest automaker in the world. All of the loans from the American and Canadian governments have been paid off—with interest—and six years ahead of schedule. (Where does the name FIAT come from? Fabricate Italian Automobiles of Turin.)
RAM residual values are up, and in some sectors beating the comparable trucks from Ford and Chevy based on three-year ALG actuals and predictions. Likewise, in the retail market, the residuals for the Charger exceed that of the Taurus and Impala.
Chrysler Group is extremely proud of their improved Order To Delivery (OTD) performance. In 2011, the OTD was 66 days. For 2013, it is 53 days. This faster delivery is even more noteworthy given the fact that Chrysler Group has seen 39 straight months of increased sales.
The police-specific vehicles from the Chrysler Group are the Dodge Charger Pursuit, the Dodge Durango Special Service, and the RAM 1500 Special Service.
The 2014 Charger Pursuit is available with two engines and three rear axle ratios. The standard engine is the 292 hp, 3.6L Pentastar V6, which comes with either a 2.65 or 3.07 rear axle. (Get the 3.07 ratio for better acceleration; the fuel economy is about the same.) The optional engine is the 370 hp, 5.7L HEMI® V8, which comes with a 2.65 rear axle. All versions use the same bulletproof 5-speed auto.
The Charger Pursuit has made major sales gains among the nation’s state police and highway patrol. The state purchase often (but not always) influences what the cities and counties buy. Prior to the 2011 redesign of the Charger, the majority of the fleet in seven states was Dodge Charger. Since the demise of the Ford CVPI and the redesign of the Charger Pursuit, 21 states now run the majority of Chargers in their fleet. (And 12 more states are still pending or in the decision-making process.)
Not all police departments register their cars and the assumption is the ratio of non-registered cars is the same as registered cars. Any market share statistic is a snapshot in time and may fluctuate up and down. That said, based on registration numbers, and with two pursuit-rated vehicles, Ford has a slight lead in the overall police market.
However, among police sedans or any one single police vehicle, the Charger Pursuit is the clear leader with 27 percent versus the Ford PI Sedan at 21 percent, Impala at 13 percent, and Caprice at 6 percent. The rest of the police pursuit market is divided equally between the Ford PI Utility and Chevy Tahoe.
For 2014, the list of upgrades to the nation’s best-selling police vehicle is short but very significant. Secure Park is standard on the Charger Pursuit. This anti-theft while idle feature uses the steering wheel buttons on the IP side of the wheel to activate and deactivate the system. Secure Park uses the presence of the fob to interact with the Brake Transmission Shift Interface.
The fob search takes about a half-second. If the fob is not detected, the transmission will not shift out of Park. The system cannot be circumvented even if the perp knows the Charger Pursuit has this secure-while-running device. One caveat! The officer cannot leave a spare fob in the car.
For 2014, the twin chrome exhaust tips have been deleted. All this has been done to improve the capability of the Charger Pursuit to cross medians without rear fascia damage. Under some situations, the chrome tips could catch the grass or dirt in the median and dislodge the rear fascia. The new exhaust pipe ends will be extended and turned down.
The really big Charger Pursuit news is a running change for mid-model year—the availability of All-Wheel Drive on the 5.7L V8 Charger Pursuit. The Charger Pursuit AWD system is completely based on a RWD platform, i.e., the Charger is a RWD until AWD is activated. The front wheel components of the AWD system do not rotate until the AWD activates. When the AWD activates, up to 40 percent of the engine torque is transferred to the front wheels.
AWD is activated by more than just wheel slip. For example, AWD is activated at ambient temperatures below 37 deg F, any time the windshield wipers are used, any time the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is activated, and any time the ESC is switched from default (full) to partial.
The AWD system, based on the Mercedes 4MATIC, has been used on the retail Charger R/T since 2007. Sheriff John Whetsel, Oklahoma County, Okla. Sheriff’s Office was one of the first to use the retail Charger R/T AWD as a patrol vehicle. A member of the Dodge Police Advisory Board, Sheriff Whetsel is now on his second Charger R/T AWD. He has experienced no trouble at all with the AWD system in police use. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keith Wilson, former Lieutenant and testing program director with the Michigan State Police and Chrysler’s law enforcement product specialist, has direct input to the Charger platform engineers. He is directly involved with tweaking the retail AWD system into a police-spec AWD system. The feel and driving dynamics of the police-tuned AWD is largely thanks to his years as a state police EVO academy EVOC instructor.
The police package AWD will differ from the retail AWD in that the transfer of torque to the front wheels is more aggressive. The retail system takes about a half-second to engage. Dodge engineers have taken steps to reduce this already short engagement time. For example, they are using powertrain inputs like sudden deceleration and wide-open throttle to ready the AWD system.
The Dodge Durango Special Service is available with either the 290 hp, 3.6L Pentastar V6 or the 360 hp, 5.7L HEMI V8. The Durango SSV comes standard with Rear-Wheel Drive, while All-Wheel Drive is optional. The SSV package includes police-spec, heavy-duty cooling, a 220 amp alternator, and police-spec, heavy-duty brakes.
New for the 2014 Durango Special Service is a console-mounted rotary shifter for the 8-speed auto. As a heads-up to upfitters, this rotary shifter can be relocated. Havis is one of the aftermarket component manufacturers making consoles to work with the new rotary shifter. In addition to the rotary shifter, the steering wheel has paddle shifters.
The Durango uses quartz-halogen projector headlamps, which cannot be wig-wagged. LED daylight running lamps are optional. This year, the taillights are the wrap-around LED “racetrack” design. For 2014, a revised instrument cluster with a certified speedometer is new for the Durango Special Service. This can either be analog or digital. In the analog mode, 1 mph increments are displayed.
The RAM 1500 Crew Cab 4x4 is essentially a carryover for 2014. The RAM Special Service is based on the 1500 Crew Cab with a 5-foot, 7-inch bed. All of the RAM SSVs are powered by the 395 hp, 5.7L HEMI V8 with 6-speed trans and all are part-time 4x4. The RAM SSV has a police-spec 220 amp alternator and police-spec engine oil cooler.
George Bomanski (GMB5@chrysler.com) reviewed their two-day Tech Training course. The detailed, hands-on course covers: 1) vehicle service and maintenance; 2) WiTECH diagnostics and troubleshooting; 3) upfitting systems and solutions; and 4) connector and module locations. This no-charge course requires a minimum of eight techs in attendance. Different departments running Chargers can combine numbers of techs to meet the minimum.
This is a must-attend course for those transitioning from the Ford CVPI to the Charger Pursuit. Since the electrical architecture continues to change, it is also a must-attend for those with pre-2011 Charger now buying the late model Charger. The RAM 1500 SSV and Durango SSV are also covered. Upfitter guides for the Charger Pursuit, RAM 1500 SSV and Durango SSV are available online at www.fleet.chrysler.com.
For 2013, the Charger, RAM and Durango powertrains were converted from Organic Acid Technology (OAT) engine coolant to Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT) engine coolant. Dex-Cool is an example of OAT. Zerex G-5 is an example of HOAT. The two coolants are definitely not compatible. Do not top off the older Charger with the new HOAT coolant. Do not top off the newer Charger with the old OAT coolant. Mixing the two causes a dramatic reduction in the required change interval, i.e., from five-year/150K miles to two-year/30K miles.
The biggest news from RAM Trucks was their introduction of the ProMaster van under the RAM Commercial banner. This FIAT-based, Euro-appearing, full-size van is a direct replacement for the Mercedes-based Sprinter van. When DaimlerChrysler dissolved, the Dodge Sprinter van was transferred to Freightliner, a Daimler (Mercedes) company.
Similar to the Sprinter van, the ProMaster van is available in Standard Roof and High Roof. The High Roof allows a 6-foot, 4-inch SWAT officer—or prisoner—to easily move around. It comes in three weight classes (1500, 2500 and 3500), four body lengths (195-inch, 213-inch, 236-inch and 250-inch), three wheelbases (118-inch, 136-inch and 159-inch) and two powertrains.
The RAM ProMaster is available with either a gasoline or diesel engine. The gas engine is the 280 hp, 3.6L Pentastar V6, which uses Variable Valve Timing and is teamed with a 6-speed automatic. This powertrain is virtually identical to that of the Dodge Charger Pursuit. The diesel engine is the 174 hp, 3.0L EcoDiesel I4, which uses a Variable Geometry Turbocharger and is mated to an automated manual transmission with clutchless, electronically controlled actuation.
A Front-Wheel Drive van, the ProMaster is proof that Chrysler Group is back in the full-size van business…with an already proven, world-class van. The ProMaster is based on the FIAT Ducato series of vans that dominate the European, Latin American and South American markets. The RAM ProMaster has a five-year/100K-mile powertrain warranty even in severe-duty government use.
RAM and Jeep Off-Road
Fleet managers got to drive the RAM 2500 over a variety of rough, dirt-road terrain…all of it very relevant to how many 2500 pickups are used. Three 4x4 powertrains were the 5.7L HEMI V8, the 6.7L Cummins diesel, and the 5.7L CNG V8. Each of these engines has plenty of power. The CNG version is as responsive as the gasoline and diesel. This was a 10-minute course with a bit of everything you could reasonably expect in an off-road or rural patrol setting.
We also drove various versions of the Jeep Wrangler and Rubicon on a fun but unrealistic woodland course in a variety of soft top, hard top and removable top versions. This was an extremely tough, tight and hilly course that was just short of rock crawling in some sections. It was a course designed to tax even a Wrangler…ground clearance, turning radius, roll center. This was 30 minutes of twist, turn, climb, drive, scrape, slide and wheelspin.
Scenic Street Drive
The Scenic Street Drive was a 90-minute cruise in six different vehicles: full-size sedan, midsize sedan, full-size SUV, midsize crossover, minivan and pickup. This was more than a spin around the parking lot or drive around access roads. It was a 60-mile cruise! We got a feel for how the cars, crossovers, SUVs and pickups handled in mountain turns, accelerated up mountain grades, and felt (noise, vibration, harshness) at cruising speed.
What were the driving impressions on some of the police-oriented vehicles? The RAM 1500 CrewCab 4x4, which is the basis for the Special Service Vehicle truck, is just awesome with the 5.7L HEMI V8. The newly available 3.6L Pentastar V6 with the 8-speed trans in the retail RAM may or may not have enough power, depending on the police task at hand. Drive one for longer than a few miles before you decide one way or the other.
Both the Dodge Avenger and the Dodge Dart have a role in police admin and support tasks. The Dodge Dart actually has enough room for two adults in an admin and support role, and it is a blast to drive with the 2.4L TigerShark I4. As for the Charger R/T AWD, this is an amazing sedan and soon to be wearing a badge/shield.
On display—but not available to drive—was the all-new Jeep Cherokee, which is a totally new competitor to the newly revised Ford Escape. The Cherokee is powered by either a 2.4L TigerShark I4 or a 3.2L Pentastar V6.
The keynote speech was from Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler Group and CEO of FIAT S.p.A. His recurring theme was: 1) four years ago FIAT and Chrysler joined forces and promises were made; 2) bankers, automotive press and customers were skeptical; 3) the promises were kept by paying off the debt early, by introducing a wide variety of totally new and significantly re-engineered vehicles, and by resizing the capacity; and 4) they will continue to keep their promises through a culture of accountability.
Marchionne is skeptical that an all-electric, battery-only vehicle is the right solution for the United States. “Electrification by itself is going to fail,” Marchionne stated. Especially for America, “CNG is the solution, not electrification,” Marchionne said. “Electrification, of course, is not carbon-neutral. Fossil fuels are used to generate electricity.”
Battery range is the biggest problem, and toward that end, a plug-in (gas plus electric) hybrid is the better solution. It has to be the right combination of MPG (or MPG equivalent) and total driving range. His prediction? By the time the 2025 fuel economy mandates take effect, just 5 to 7 percent of the vehicles will be all-electric.
According to Marchionne, there are a lot of interim steps to do first, a lot of improvements yet to be made with gasoline and diesel, in preparation for the upcoming 2017 and 2025 fuel economy mandates. Turbo EcoDiesel, 8-speed transmissions in RWD vehicles, 9-speed transmissions in FWD vehicles, and FIAT’s MultiAir Technology (the next step in direct injection) are just a few of the interim steps.