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Update: GM Law Enforcement Product Council

Written by Police Fleet Manager Staff

This is definitely the Year of Chevrolet. The 2015 Tahoe PPV is all-new with a latest-technology 5.3L V8. A Special Service package has been released for the 2015 Silverado 1500. And the biggest news of all? A police-package, pursuit-capable 4x4 Tahoe PPV is now available.

The 2015 2WD Tahoe PPV and the Special Service package 4x4 Tahoe 5W4 goes into production this summer.

The 2015 police-package 4x4 Tahoe PPV and the special-service package Silverado SSV go into production this fall. A bi-fuel, gasoline-CNG version of the NextGen Impala will be available as a green fleet, police admin solution this fall. The new bi-fuel CNG version of the brand-new Silverado HD is available now.

 

Fleet Preview

The summer GM Law Enforcement Product Council meeting was held in conjunction with the GM Fleet and Commercial 2015 Product Preview. The event basically covers everything from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac: all of their sedans, coupes, sports cars, hybrids, electric vehicles, crossovers, SUVs, ½-ton pickups, ¾-ton pickups, 1-ton pickups and vans.

The Product Preview was opened by Ed Peper, U.S. Vice President GM Fleet & Commercial Sales. Peper acknowledged the ignition switch recall with a commitment to fix the problem and a statement that safety remains a priority at GM. He also highlighted General Motors’ recent achievements in a number of ways. GM has 10 straight quarters of the most patents issued by the U.S. Patent office in automotive technology.

 

Best Value

The GM brands have continued to take Vincentric “Best Value” awards, which are linked to the total cost of ownership. These Best Value for 2014 awards include Truck Brand (Chevrolet); Electric/Plug-in Hybrid Car (Chevrolet Spark); Premium Compact Crossover (Buick Encore); Premium Large Crossover (Buick Enclave); Large SUV (Chevrolet Suburban); ¾-ton pickup (Chevrolet Silverado 2500).

In the JDPower Initial Quality Study of 2013 models, the Chevrolet Impala topped the Large Car list. Other GM winners were Tahoe (Large SUV); Chevrolet Avalanche (Large Light Duty Pickup); Cadillac Escalade (Large Premium SUV); Chevrolet Camaro (Midsize Sporty Car); and Buick Encore (Sub Compact SUV).

The JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study was also good news for GM’s 2011 models. The Chevrolet Volt took top honors for Compact Car; Buick Lucerne for Large Car; GMC Yukon for Large SUV; GMC Sierra HD for Heavy-Duty truck; GMC Sierra 1500 for Light-Duty truck; Cadillac Escalade for Large Premium SUV; Cadillac DTS for Large Premium Car; and Chevrolet Camaro for Midsize Sporty Car.

The rise in ALG estimates for residual value after three years, 36K miles has likewise been good news for all four GM brands, especially including Chevrolet. “Transaction price is part of the total cost of ownership, but only part,” Peper said. Put another way, one police department reported on average residual value of $11,000 for a Tahoe PPV with 100K miles. This compares to an average of $2,900 for 100K-mile Ford CVPIs from the same department.

 

New for 2015

For 2015, GM has many fleet and retail big announcements. The first is a new three-truck strategy with the introduction of the all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. The full-size Silverado/Sierra was all new for 2014. The Silverado HD/Sierra HD is all new for 2015 and so is the midsize Colorado/Canyon.

Too much truck for the job raises initial cost and operating cost concerns. Too little truck for the job raises maintenance/repair and residual value concerns. Right-sizing and One Step Down are clear trends in muni purchasing, so GM’s three-truck strategy gives municipalities the flexibility to more precisely match truck to task.

Available in 2WD and 4WD, Extended Cab and Crew Cab, these midsize trucks will be powered by a 200 hp, 2.5L I-4, while the 305 hp, 3.6L V6 is an option. A 2.8L turbo-four diesel will be added to the lineup in 2016. Interestingly, the 2015 Colorado and 2015 Silverado HD use many features popularized on the 2014 Silverado: corner step bumper, two-tier load rack, multiple bed tie-downs, bed and tailgate protector, spray-in bed liner, and controlled drop/assisted lift tailgate.

Other big news for muni fleets is the 2015 Chevrolet City Express small van. New from Chevrolet in early 2015 is TRAX, their small SUV, already in use in 30 global markets. Powered by a 1.4L turbo-four, it is available as an AWD.

Another big announcement, corporate-wide, was a huge leap in connectivity leveraging OnStar and 4G LTE technology. This feature includes a WiFi-Internet hotspot with connections for up to seven devises. The partnership with Telogis raises the cloud-based telematics with actionable intelligence to an entirely new level: text messages displayed on-screen; simple telemetric technology. All of this is factory-installed and tamper proof. About 30 GM vehicles will have OnStar as standard equipment embedded hardware by the end of 2014. Vehicles equipped with OnStar can subscribe to Telogis for telematics that offer advanced fleet management tools and capabilities. Information is power; OnStar is information.

 

Street Drive

The 2015 GM Product Preview included the opportunity to drive a few of the 120 different makes and models of GM vehicles that were fueled and waiting. Each drive included a twisting on-ramp to the interstate, a sweeping off-ramp, a U-turn, the ramps and time on the interstate…about a 7-mile loop. If you concentrate on one aspect of the vehicle at a time, you can learn a lot in just a short Street Drive. I spent the entire afternoon.

The drives included the V6 Caprice PPV (pricing and availability issues aside, still the closest replacement for the Ford CVPI), and the V8 Caprice PPV and Chevy SS (both of which perform like a four-door Camaro SS). The new body style Impala was next (what a great car, way under-appreciated) and the Buick Lacrosse (which showed what an AWD Impala might have done).

In the “Gee, I wonder about police vehicles of the future” department, I drove the V6-powered Traverse and the V6-powered Equinox. The 3.6L V6 is nowhere near enough engine for the Traverse and the vehicle needs much better brakes. As a surprise, the Equinox crossover seemed like a pretty good fit. Of course, any future vehicle will be an entirely new and different vehicle. GM has no plans whatsoever for police versions of either the Traverse or Equinox.

To keep an eye on the police admin-type vehicles, I drove a Cruze and Malibu. The Cruze Eco and Malibu Eco are solid green choices for non-pursuit police tasks. The Cadillac CTS-V, Chevy Spark, Cadillac ELR (sister to Volt) rounded out the frivolous but fun test drives.

 

Tahoe PPV Driving Impressions

The real test drive, the one that counted, the one that really matters, was the 2015 Tahoe PPV. The 2WD Tahoe PPV and 4x4 Tahoe SSV will go into production this summer. The much-anticipated 4x4 Tahoe PPV goes into production this fall. A dozen members of GM’s LEPC spent three hours on an extended drive with the new 2015 Tahoe PPV (2WD). The roads ranged from interstates to paved rural roads.

Getting out of the NextGen police sedans and into the Tahoe is like a breath of fresh air. In full uniform, with full duty belt and body armor, the Tahoe is extremely easy to enter and exit. Inside, there is plenty of head, shoulder, hip, knee, leg and foot room for both the driver and front seat passenger. And there is plenty of room for upfit gear. The Tahoe has so much room, compared to so many of today’s cramped police vehicles, it takes a while to get over the sensation of roominess so you can see the other Tahoe features.

One of these is reduced body roll during aggressive driving. The Tahoe handles well, but has always had a bit of body roll. The 2015 Tahoe PPV has good steering response and good evasive handling but no wallow or lumbering. While producing fairly flat cornering, it also produces a fairly comfortable ride. The new Tahoe definitely has a less harsh ride, even when empty of cargo. Both the PPV Tahoes, the new 2WD and the upcoming 4x4, have the same ride height.

Speaking of a responsive turn-in for cornering, the electric power assist steering (EPAS) is absolutely transparent. Not a single LEPC member noticed anything unusual or quirky about the steering: low speed effort, on-center at highway speeds, stability at very high speeds. If we were not told the Tahoe had EPAS steering, we would not have questioned it by the way the Tahoe felt.

The latest ALG residual value estimates are a too-obvious-to-miss clue about how much improved the 2015 Tahoe is over the proven successful 2014 Tahoe. The ALG residual value estimates jumped 13 percentage points from 44 percent (2014 generation) to 57 percent (2015 generation). That is the best early evidence that the NextGen Tahoe will be much better than even the venerable, current generation Tahoe.

That said, the Tahoe pricing has gone up for 2015. Fleet pricing varies state-to-state. A common transaction price for the 2014 Tahoe (2WD) PPV may have been around $26K. Expect to pay about $3K more for the 2015 version of the 2WD Tahoe PPV. Expect to pay another $3K more for the 2015 version of the pursuit-rated, 4x4 Tahoe PPV. The 2015 Tahoe PPV does, however, come standard with many features that were optional on the 2014 Tahoe PPV: back-up sensors, rear camera, auxiliary battery, and trailer hitch.

The new 2015 Tahoe PPV both has more horsepower and torque and will get better fuel economy compared to the previous version. It is simply a better, safer vehicle. The good news about the Tahoe is that it will be with us—just as it is—for many years of production.

 

Silverado SSV

The new Silverado SSV is based on the Crew Cab with either the standard or short box. The Silverado SSV is powered by the new 5.3L V8, which has been upgraded by direct injection added to variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. The result of these latest three engine technologies is a little more horsepower and a lot more torque. The Silverado SSV is available as a 2WD or a 4x4.

The Silverado SSV is not pursuit-rated and has a top speed limited to 98 mph. The SSV suspension (tires, wheels, brakes, springs, shocks) is the same as the retail WT1 “work truck” and has not been changed with police components.

The Silverado SSV has many police-friendly features including a heavy-duty alternator, auxiliary (isolated) battery, high-capacity air cleaner, optional upfitter switches inside the cab, a unique vinyl rear seat with cloth front seat combination, and a 20 percent (center section) front seat delete. The Silverado SSV comes standard with a manual driver’s seat. If a power seat is ordered, the 20 percent section cannot be deleted. However, it can be removed by the department and stored to be later placed back in the truck for the maximum residual value.


Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jul/Aug 2014

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