Caprice PPV gets column shifter!
GM Law Enforcement Product Council – Spring 2013
By: Police Fleet Manager Staff
Chevrolet’s big news for 2014 was the new steering column (IP) mounted shifter for the Caprice PPV. The largest of the police sedans, the Caprice will come standard with a full-length center console mounting plate. The new Caprice also gets electric-assist power steering.
For 2014, the Caprice PPV has a trunk release mounted on each front door instead of the instrument panel, which can get crowded by laptop displays and other upfit gear. From the inside, the auto-locked front doors can now be opened with a double handle pull. One pull unlocks the door, the second pull opens the door.
The Caprice comes standard with a front seat-only roof rail (side curtain) airbag, which allows full-coverage prisoner partition, and has always had a seat back, side thorax airbag. New for 2014, the same seat (thorax) airbag has had a cell added to protect the pelvic area. Injuries to the pelvic area are more debilitating, and take longer to heal than arm and leg injuries.
The pelvic is also a strong bone structure, allowing the airbag to exert more safety-necessary force on the pelvic area. On the same topic of improved crash-safety, the 2014 Caprice has even more ultra-high strength and boron steel in the roof structure and A-pillars.
The Caprice already has the biggest seat of any police sedan. For 2014, the Caprice PPV gets a 1-inch wider seat bottom (for more comfort). The seat also gets 1/2-inch lower bottom seat bolsters (for easier entry/exit) and tapered bottom seat bolsters at the front to allow more knee splay. The seat back is even more sculpted around the duty belt. Finally, the seat belt receiver is longer and angled more forward for ease of fastening the belt around the holster.
According to Chevrolet, size does indeed matter. The Caprice PPV is the largest of the police sedans with 112 cubic feet of interior room compared to between 103 and 105 cubic feet for the other sedans. With the move of the gear selector from the floor to the column, the 9C3 Detective version of the Caprice PPV has been discontinued.
Tahoe PPV and Impala 9C1
Of course, the largest police package, pursuit-rated vehicle on the market is the Tahoe PPV. The Tahoe PPV will have a short 2014 model year to prepare for the 2015 NextGen Tahoe. The order cutoff date is Aug. 22 and production will end in November. To fill the gap in production, Chevrolet will build an inventory of 2014 Tahoe PPVs before beginning the lengthy changeover to the NextGen Tahoe. Orders for the 2015 Tahoe PPV will begin in Spring 2014.
The current Tahoe has the lowest repair cost, the longest service life, and the highest residual value of any police package vehicle. That gives the Tahoe PPV the lowest total cost of ownership of any police vehicle.
The current generation (2008-2013) Impala will continue in production as a police package vehicle until the end of the 2014 model year. Now called the Impala Limited, the current Impala is a fleet-only sedan and the basis for the Impala 9C1 Police and 9C3 Undercover police package vehicles. The Impala has the lowest initial cost of any police vehicle. There are no plans to produce a police package version of the NextGen 2014 Impala.
That said, both the NextGen 2014 Impala and Malibu are available with the 2.4L I4 eAssist hybrid engine. This engine is not available in the current Impala Limited, making the 2014 Impala and Malibu with this engine good choices for police admin. The new Impala is sleeker, more aggressive, and more aerodynamic than the current version. However, it is just as big on the inside. The NextGen Impala is slightly narrower, but there is more rear seat leg room, so the interior cubic feet is virtually the same. The NextGen Impala has the same big trunk and has the same excellent 360-degree visibility from the driver’s seat.
“Re-engineered from hood to hitch” is what Chevrolet says about the new Silverado. In fact, it is newer than it looks, starting with three brand-new engines. While the Silverado is not available with a Special Service Vehicle package, the new truck is important for two reasons. First, Chevy is strongly considering such a package. Second, the 2014 Silverado gives us clues to the totally new 2015 Tahoe, which will be available as both a RWD Police Package (PPV) and 4x4 Special Service Package (SSV).
On the interior, the Silverado has a new instrument panel, new seat contours and fabrics, new center console design, and new interior trim. From the inside, the 2014 Silverado is definitely a new truck. The interior has optional four upfitting switches that can be wired to the battery or the ignition key. These can be used to control any aftermarket device.
From the outside, the logic was don’t mess with the truck that has the highest residual value of any half-ton. With one exception, only the slightest styling and sheetmetal changes were made. That exception was a big one—the doors. For 2014, the B-pillars on the Crew Cab were moved forward a few inches to make a 4-inch wider entry/exit gap for the rear passengers. The front doors are a bit shorter in width and the rear doors are a bit wider.
However, the biggest door change was to the Extended Cab—now called Double Cab. Instead of the rear doors being hinged at the rear and closing under the front door, the rear doors are now hinged at the front and close like the Crew Cab. The addition of the B-pillar to the Double Cab (there was none on the Extended Cab) makes the cab stronger, quieter, and more crash-safe.
A subtle but ingeniously simple change for the Silverado is a Corner Step formed right into the rear bumper and hand-holds (grip pocket) built into the bed rail protectors. This extremely useful solution results in a very functional, no-moving-parts step up to the bed. The new Silverado also has an under-rail LED light—nice feature!
For 2014, the Silverado gets three all-new truck engines: 4.3L V6, 5.3L V8 and 6.2L V8. While the engine displacement for the new engines is the same as the old engines, the three new engines are totally different. All these engines are overhead valve, pushrod truck engines designed for maximum toque at lower rpms as opposed to high rpm-oriented, car-based overhead cam engines.
Each new engine has the latest three gasoline engine combustion technologies, hence the name EcoTec3. These are Variable Valve Timing, Direct Injection and Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation). Both Variable Valve Timing and Direct Injection increase overall torque, flatten the torque curve, and lower the rpm at which peak torque occurs.
For example, the 355 hp 5.3L V8 produces the same torque at 2000 rpm as a similar size, competitive V8 (without these tech advances) has at 3250 rpm. Torque is more important than horsepower when it comes to fuel economy. The more usable torque in the normal rpm range, the more often cylinder deactivation can occur. The more frequent the cylinder deactivation, the better the actual fuel economy. More torque allows cylinder deactivation under a wider variety of normal driving conditions.
The new 283 hp 4.3L V6 is standard on most Silverado trucks, including the Crew Cab. The new 355 hp 5.3L V8 and new 6.2L V8 are optional. All Silverado pickups use a 6-speed automatic trans. The 2014 Silverado also has upgraded brakes and shocks. The Silverado has a 5-year/100K-mile powertrain warranty and a 3-year/36K mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. New for 2014, the Silverado has a 2-year/24K-mile scheduled maintenance program.
Fuel Economy and Sustainability
GM Fleet is following a number of concurrent paths for fuel economy and energy sustainability. First is weight reduction across all vehicles, especially pickups. For every 10 percent reduction in weight, you get a 6.5 percent increase in fuel economy. The weight reduction comes from an increased use of aluminum, magnesium, and boron steel and from strengthening processes like hydro-forming.
In addition to the three EcoTec3 advances, GM is continuing to push for gains in gasoline engines. Electric-assist power steering is one method. EPAS weighs less than a comparable hydraulic system and places less load on the engine, both of which increases fuel economy. Another strategy is to use more powerful V6 engines to replace larger V8 engines since the newer V6 engines produce the same power as older-generation V8 engines. Of course, nearly all GM engines are now E85 compatible. GM is also pursuing clean-diesel passenger cars. The new Cruze with the 2.0L I4 turbo diesel gets 46 mpg and has a range of 700 miles.
GM launched their bi-fuel Silverado HD for 2014. The Compressed Natural Gas–Gasoline option is available for all Crew Cab 2500 and 3500 series pickups in either 2WD or 4x4 and both box lengths. At a time when the national average price for gasoline was $3.45 per gallon, the national average price for CNG was $2.10 per gallon equivalent. The fuel mileage and driving performance is comparable on either fuel.
GM is all about vehicle electrification. One example is the eAssist mild hybrid on the Chevy Malibu Hybrid. This Malibu uses the Gen 3 Belt-Alternator-Starter system to deliver a true 6 mpg increase in mileage. (See the July/August 2013 issue of Police Fleet Manager.)
Another, of course, is the Chevy Volt extended-range electric vehicle. The Volt is an electric-powered vehicle—a tiny gasoline engine charges the battery pack and powers the electric drive motor. (See the January/February 2013 issue of Police Fleet Manager.) Finally, the all-electric, battery-only Spark electric vehicle goes on sale in California and Oregon in late-summer.
GM Crash Safety and Avoidance
The afternoon of the two-day LEPC was spent at the race track experiencing a wide variety of passive crash-alert and active crash-avoidance technologies. The new safety systems were short- and long-range radar, short- and long-range ultrasonic sensors, and high-resolution cameras to sense the location of vehicles and other objects around the car.
These are already in production on some retail vehicles. The LEPC members were asked which of the technologies—priced out as options—had the most relevance to police vehicles.
As a rule, these safety systems fall into one of two categories: alert (passive) and assist (active). Many of these systems can have the range (or sensitivity) set to high, medium or low. Also as a rule, with assist (active) technologies, the counter-measures wait as long as possible, hoping the distracted driver will take action. Since assist (active) counter-measures are intended for the distracted, inattentive or otherwise non-responsive drivers, a positive action on the part of the driver will prevent the safety systems from activating. For example, aggressive steering or throttle will cancel the imminent crash forward braking response.
Forward Collision Warning can be set for alert-only or alert and assist, or it can be turned off. Using some of the pending NHTSA test protocol, the system activates at a time-to-contact of 2.1 seconds. The system sees the vehicle you are overtaking, or stopped in the road, calculates its speed, compares that to your speed, and calculates how long until the crash will occur.
LEPC members tested this system first-hand in a vehicle running 45 mph overtaking a vehicle running 20 mph. With no inputs at all to the steering, gas or brakes, our overtaking vehicle gradually slowed down by itself and maintained a proper gap to the slower car.
Adaptive Cruise Control, especially the imminent crash avoidance, is by far the most sophisticated (and expensive) of GM’s safety systems. Adaptive Cruise Control is regular cruise control most of the time. In heavier traffic, Adaptive Cruise Control senses the traffic flow ahead and maintains a pre-selected gap between your car and the car in front in your lane.
If that car speeds up, your car will speed back up all the way to the original cruise control setting. If that car slows down or stops, your car will automatically slow down or stop. Adaptive Cruise Control is active over the full range of speeds. As such, it smoothly maintains the gap between vehicles, including smoothly coming to a stop.
With no input from the driver, LEPC members overtook a 35 mph car, slowed to maintain the gap, and came to a stop when the car in front stopped for a traffic light, all without touching the brakes. When the light changed, a touch to the cruise “resume” or a tap on the gas pedal, and we took off behind the lead car. What happens if you don’t take off? The system waits five seconds after the lead car leaves and then indicates a prompt.
Imminent Crash Avoidance
It is the active (assist) imminent crash avoidance aspect of the Adaptive Cruise Control that is so compelling and relevant to patrol vehicles. The overtake vehicle is running 65 mph. The slow vehicle in front is running 20 mph. The system calculates the time-to-contact, signals an alert, and applies medium braking force (about 0.3g deceleration). The system then waits until the calculated “last second,” hoping the moderate brake application will get the attention of the driver.
Adaptive Cruise Control then applies the maximum braking, activating the ABS system. LEPC members overtook a foam target vehicle at a wide variety of overtake speeds and never came closer than 1 foot to contact.
Can a vehicle equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control with imminent crash avoidance be used to PIT another vehicle? Can we come up from behind at a high speed, slow to match speeds, and then turn into the vehicle to PIT it? Yes. We did it. The GM version of this safety system is designed for inattentive drivers. It does not activate or intervene if the driver is making a lot of steering, throttle or braking inputs.
How does the system work on wet or snow-covered roads? The imminent crash avoidance depends on ABS braking. Brakes stop the wheels, tires stop the car. Worn tread depth, under-inflated tires and adverse road conditions all affect ABS stopping distances. The crash avoidance system will use as much braking power as the ABS will allow. Even if contact would have been made, the speed of the overtake vehicle would be greatly reduced. Energy goes up with the square of velocity—any amount of braking will greatly lower the crash severity.
Lane Departure Alert is an audible beep or tactile seat vibration that alerts the driver if he/she has drifted out of his/her lane. Using a forward-facing camera, all it takes is a lane marking on one side of the car or the other and speeds above 35 mph. This alert is not triggered if the turn signal is used or if the driver turns the steering wheel at a rate to indicate a lane change was the intent. Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Camera, Backup Auto Brake, Rear Park Assist, and Front Brake Assist are also available.
Many of the assists (passive) and alerts (active) are tied into the Safety Alert Seat. This seat uses a seat vibration motor to warn the driver in a unique and effective way. The system triggers a seat vibration on one side or both sides of the seat. For example, the left side of the seat vibrates if a lane departure violation is on the left side. Far different from a visual or audible alert, this tactile alert cuts through the “noise” and distractions of whatever else is going on.
The LEPC gave formal feedback to GM Fleet, system by system, based on the relative benefit of each system to patrol. Contact your regional fleet account manager with your opinions.