This year’s Police Fleet Expo
(PFE) was held in St. Louis with an attendance of more than 600 fleet managers and law enforcement personnel. Those who attended the sessions were able to see and hear from the experts in their field, and the trade show floor was packed with all sorts of new products.
Highlighting the show was the exhibit hall and the appearance of the NextGen police vehicles from all three automakers. Importantly, Chrysler Group selected the PFE to unveil its all-new 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit. Ford displayed its NextGen Sedan Police Interceptor. (The NextGen Utility Police Interceptor was unveiled the following week.) Not to be left out, GM brought the long awaited return of the Caprice PPV police sedan. This was the first time most fleet managers got the chance to actually see, touch and sit in these ready-for-production NextGen police sedans. Agency Workshops
Day one began with the Agency Workshops, which are networking dialogues among managers of similar sized fleets. Attendees were divided into three groups based on agency size and geographical responsibility: state and federal agencies, small agencies with up to 50 vehicles, and medium and large agencies with more than 50 vehicles. These sessions were very informal and allowed fleet managers from across North America to share issues and concerns that they may normally not have the opportunity to discuss in this type of direct access environment.
Topics of discussion like procurement, sales of vehicles, safety, equipment, warranty service and repair issues are usually the focus, with the majority of the time spent discussing common service issues with all three vehicle manufacturers.
The Medium/Large Agency Workshop, for example, was packed wall to wall, with the discussion focused on service issues with all three current police vehicles. The session was hosted by veteran fleet managers Greg Hartman, Special Services Supervisor, Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Police and Deputy John Croop, CAFM, Assistant Fleet Manager, Geauga County, Ohio, Sheriff.
Complaints about the brake pad life on all three makes of police vehicle were common in this session. It was interesting to note that although many agencies had experimented with aftermarket brake parts, almost everyone has come back to OEM pads and rotors regardless of vehicle maker.
Upfitting issues were also a hot topic, with the NextGen vehicles appearing to have less interior room. The consistent theme was that everyone had to adopt the trunk tray setup no matter what vehicle was being upfitted. The transfer of more equipment to the trunk also brought up the need for dual battery options on all three NextGen police vehicles. At this time, it appears only GM is offering a second trunk-mounted battery for upfitting equipment. Early information is that all three next generation police vehicles will have the trunk equipment tray offered, if not standard.
The liveliest topic of discussion centered on the end of life of the Ford CVPI and the big three automakers’ replacements. The end of production date has been finalized as August 2011, with March 1, 2011, as the order cutoff date. Concerns were expressed over the optional AWD and optional turbocharging in the NextGen Ford Sedan Police Interceptor. Ford later emphasized that AWD is not the same today as 10 years ago; today’s systems are very robust. Also, today’s turbos are all now both oil-cooled and water-cooled.
Concerns were expressed about the 14- to 16-week delivery time of the Caprice, which is imported from Australia. In its session, Chevrolet announced a limited, stateside stocking program; an extensive replacement parts inventory; and the fact that most driveline and powertrain parts are already in use on domestic cars like the Chevy Camaro.
As for the NextGen Dodge Charger, the following day fleet managers saw the improvements in visibility and V6 fuel economy. The rapid brake pad wear issue on the 2006- 2007 Chargers has been long been resolved.
The upfitting of hybrid vehicles was also discussed. The New York City Police are operating one of the largest hybrid fleets in the country. The NYPD has 104 marked Fusions and 50 unmarked Fusions out in operational assignments. There is an all-around positive feedback response from the front line, with officers reporting that the Fusions offer plenty of room and that engines are working well. NYPD is leading the way with these new vehicles as their own upfitting shop does the work, which includes customizing the Fusion’s seats to accommodate duty belts. NYPD’s fleet manager said they have busted the myth that hybrids can’t be used in frontline operational policing.
Fleet Management 101
Leslie Rucker, president of Fleet Management Consulting, presented a general session on basic fleet management. This session was an excellent learning opportunity for first-time fleet managers as he covered the key functional areas of fleet management. It was a must-hear for those new to their positions.
Key areas included shop efficiency, fleet utilization, fleet life cycles and replacement programs, and managing soaring fleet costs. One of the key points Rucker always tries to get across to new fleet managers is that documentation and accountability of users is key to maintaining a proper fleet. Don’t just assume users are bringing vehicles in for maintenance; make them accountable with systems in place to make that information easily accessible.
Bill DeRousse, fleet superintendent for the City of Everett, Wash., and Sergeant John DeRousse, Fleet Services manager, Everett, Wash., Police, teamed up to share decades worth of experience. The session on warranty recovery was geared toward fleet managers who have their own shops and do their own maintenance. DeRousse explained the requirements, benefits and potential downsides to doing your own warranty work.
To illustrate his point, he used the example of when he is challenged by a city official or police management as to why his garage charges almost $200 for what’s perceived as a simple oil change. DeRousse explained that yes, Speedy Lube or Mr. Lube can probably do that oil change for $50, but they don’t do the complete safety inspection that his garage does. Everyone knows that with severe duty police vehicles, it’s these safety inspections that often find critical suspension, drivetrain or braking issues before the operators report them.
DeRousse further explained that the total hourly employee costs associated with transporting vehicles back and forth is huge and often not factored in. Consider the downtime of an officer or vehicle transporting to and from that cheaper oil change, then over to the dealership for a similar safety inspection, then back to the police station. In fact, it actually costs more than the original $200 charged by Bill’s garage without the frontline officer being involved at all. To top it off, his garage washes and gases up the vehicle so it’s truly ready for the road.
Sergeant DeRousse provided an excellent presentation on the basics of police fleet management for those new to managing “Cops and Cars”—basic, but very important information for those who may be new to the dynamics of the police environment. John clearly explained that transparency and knowing your costs are critical components to any successful fleet program. Efficient vehicle management is key with a structured vehicle replacement program, transparent objectives and strong interdepartmental relationships.
Ron Katz from Chevin Fleet Solutions spoke directly to those who perhaps have not yet switched to a software-based fleet management system. Although he sells the product, Katz was honest in addressing the fact that not every software program will work for everyone and that fleet managers need to obtain a system that works for their environment. Leveraging technology to streamline your operation is key. Standardizing fleet data will go a long way to making better informed decisions, especially in a time when fleet managers have significant legislative oversight.
Vehicle Manufacturers Dialogues
During these sessions, each vehicle manufacturer addressed its new models and service issues with current models. Fleet managers had the opportunity to speak directly to all three police program managers and technical staff. This allowed for direct questions to be answered immediately and for all to hear.
Chrysler Group, LLC
Chrysler’s Senior Manager Mitch Mitchell, Government and Sales Programs, introduced the brand new 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit. (For more details on the NextGen Charger, see page 30.) Mitchell spoke of the new leadership at Chrysler LLC. The fleet director and president of Fleet Sales report directly to the CEO. In anticipation of tripling police sales, they are beefing up their field and support staff, including the introduction of David Callery, recently retired fleet manager for the New York State Police.
On the service front, Chrysler’s George Bomanski encouraged agencies to use the www.fleet.chrysler.com Web site to access a variety of service and technical information. He also offered agencies a complimentary two-day upfitting session for their staff if they provided an indoor shop with a classroom and a minimum of eight participants. The WiTech system is now the only system required for past or present model diagnostics.
The issue of fuel tanks not filling because the nozzle shuts off was due to fuel in the tank not stabilizing before filling. Owners are directed to TSB 14-001—09. The Charger wigwag headlight module failure was discussed. Their Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) 08- 016-09 covers a reflash for the Charger’s Police Taxi Interface Module (PTIM).
Another service issue was the separation of Charger fan blades. This factory production issue was fixed with a new parts supplier in 2008. Bomanski requested that agencies contact him directly at email@example.com so he can acquire as much information as possible on this issue. Tension strut failures are being misdiagnosed because fine cracks are found in housing, but the strut is fine.
Dana Hammer, General Motors manager, Law Enforcement Vehicles, spoke about the Impala and Tahoe continuing to be produced as-is for several more years. The Impala has the lowest MSRP of any police vehicle, while the Tahoe has the lowest life cycle operating costs of all police vehicles based on a Vincentric study. The 2011 Tahoe Hybrid now offers agencies the option of going green while still maintaining the storage of an SUV. The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD2500 is a completely new vehicle and is offered to fleet customers as well.
The much-anticipated 2011 Caprice is a modern, full-size, rear wheel drive sedan. It will be powered by a 355 hp V8 when introduced in the first quarter of 2011. The 305 hp 3.6L V6 will come standard on the 2012 models. (For more details on the NextGen Caprice PPV, see page 20.)
Ford Motor Company
The Ford team discussed its new Sedan Police Interceptor and heavily hinted at the following week's reveal of its second purpose-built police vehicle, the Utility Police Interceptor. (For more detail on the Next Gen Utility Police Interceptor, see page 38.) Also new for 2011 are the engine lineups for the F-150: 3.7L V6 FFV, 5.0L V8 FFV and EcoBoost V6.
Ford’s Gerry Koss explained that even though the legendary Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is in its final production year, it is still available for order up until March 1, 2011. Almost everything is carryover except for a new front seat and headrest, which are mandated FMVSS 202A changes taking effect. Koss explained that the decision to discontinue the CVPI and develop two new police vehicles was related to new 2012 federal crash standards for roof-crush/side/pole impact.
Service issues for Ford were discussed by Ford’s Chris Keady (firstname.lastname@example.org), who explained once again that agencies need to contact Ford Fleet by calling (800) 34- Fleet or by visiting the Web site at www.fleet. ford.com. The Ford Fleet Web site has customer user tools like Batch VIN registering that will track your vehicles, allowing you to get automatic updates on any TSBs and recalls. Ford needs service items to be tracked so it can identify common issues and determine priority of fixes.
Regarding the previously reported CVPI white paint failure issues caused by heat, Keady said that although most were being handled on a case-by-case basis, this issue seemed to be resolving itself. The paint issues were identified on a specific number of CVPIs with specific build dates, and the deadline for the affected vehicles to be painted under warranty is coming soon. Keady wanted agencies to make sure they contacted Ford Fleet as soon as possible so as not to miss the cutoff.
The TSB for 2009 CVPI rear axle issues is out, and this repair should be caught by dealers upon inspection. If you have your own garage, make sure you’re checking your rear axel seals for leaks. As for the previously reported cooling fan issues on the CVPI, TSB 07-9-5 now supersedes the previously released TSB 06-20-03.
Comprehensive Fuel Management
David Maxsimic, executive vice president of Sales and Marketing for Wright Express, provided some interesting insight into how the price of fuel is determined. He also spoke on some of the processes for creating a network of price options by buying in bulk when prices are down. One of the interesting parts of this session was when Maxsimic explained the benefits of using GPS, mapping and predetermined route selection to create efficiencies and reduce trip times and frequency.
NYPD Alternative Vehicles
New York City Police Fleet Manager Bob Martinez provided an update on their fleet of alternative vehicles after a year in service. NYPD has a fleet of 8,000 vehicles and an annual budget of $34 million. He has deployed 104 marked Ford Fusions with full and complete patrol-level upfitting. He also has 50 unmarked Fusion Hybrids in service, and feedback from officers has been extremely positive.
NYPD Fleet modified the OEM consoles by lowering them to be even with the seats. Padding was removed from seat backs to allow for firearms, and cages were designed by aftermarket upfitters. Panasonic USA stepped up, and together they have developed a Panasonic Toughbook solution. The clamshell Panasonic CF-30 sits in the trunk with the Panasonic PDRC fixed screen and keyboard in the front, allowing for good interior ergonomics.
Martinez was very clear to advise the audience that if they wish to begin outfitting hybrid vehicles, they need to ensure their staff is properly trained by the OEM and an action/safety plan is in place. He also noted that he plans to increase the number of alternative fuel vehicles in the fleet every year. He spoke about using the media to highlight the “greening” of the fleet and how that has had a very positive response from the public. Both GM and Ford now have specific hybrid Special Service packages for law enforcement.
Energy and Options
Ross Johnson, manager of Business Development for Energy Extreme, spoke honestly about the realities of energy conservation and fleet greening initiatives. His favorite phrase was, “Behavioral modification in an age of energy conservation is very difficult since humans are hard to change.” These words have never been truer as many fleets simply buy E85 vehicles to satisfy a government purchasing requirement even though there isn’t an E85 gas station for hundreds of miles.
The bottom line is that we are running out of petroleum, and there is a predicted 147 percent increase in demand for oil in China and India between 2003 and 2030. Referring to agencies that buy green equipment but never use it to save fuel because of users who resist changing their behavior, he said, “Don’t get stuck buying a big green parade float.”
We have switched to LED lights to allow vehicles to be shut off in certain circumstances, but in reality, the officer’s behavior is not modified to do this, so the vehicles are left running. Johnson explained that two idle hours every day in a 100-vehicle fleet saves $147,000 a year on average. He noted that cost-efficient electric heaters and air conditioners are available for vehicles. We all need to “‘incentivize our people’ to want to be greener, not just talk about going greener,” he said.
This year’s PFE Exhibit Hall was one of the best yet. The highlight of the show was the presence of all three American manufacturers’ new police vehicles. Ford had its Sedan Police Interceptor, GM displayed its Caprice, and for the very first time anywhere, Dodge unveiled its all-new 2011 Charger Pursuit. These three sedans were virtually swamped with people trying to sit inside. Ride & Drives are planned for each during the spring of 2011. All the other police package and special service package vehicles from these automakers were present as well.
Many other vehicles were also on display, including the one that was probably the most technologically advanced at the show. Warnock’s 2010 Technology Vehicle looks at technologies to de-clutter the interior and provide state-of-the-art electronics to enhance officer safety. Components include the Rockwell Collins iForce Integrated Control System, Raptor RP-1 Radar, dual color Whelen Vertex lighting, Kustom Signal Digital Eyewitness G-3 Vision, and Noptic nighttime optical thermal imaging. This technology program was created by Warnock’s mastermind Joe Nutt, who built the entire vehicle.
Every major police aftermarket equipment, parts and service company was in attendance at this year’s show—from professional upfitters to fleet software, from lightbars to push bumpers and prisoner partitions, from brake pads to police tires and engine oil, from in-car cameras to radar and license plate readers, from gun racks to MDT mounts, from police motorcycles to police-spec electric vehicles, from graphic packages to wiring harnesses. If it went in or on a police vehicle, it was at the PFE Exhibit Hall.
Check our Web site for the date and location of the 2011 Police Fleet Expo-West during May and the 2011 Police Fleet Expo in St. Louis during August.
Sergeant Brad Brewer is a 22-year member of the Vancouver Police Department. He sits on the Ford Police Advisory Board and regularly gives presentations at law enforcement conferences on mobile computing, wireless technology and police vehicle ergonomics. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Photos by Sara Tincher.