The first annual Police Fleet Expo – West (PFE-W) is now history—and a success. The PFE-W is our first police-specific fleet conference for each year. It will continue to be held each May on the West Coast. This year it was in Long Beach.
The second police-specific fleet conference for each year is the Police Fleet Expo (PFE). This is held each August in a Midwest location—Grand Rapids, Louisville, Milwaukee, and this year, St. Louis. Holding one conference in the eastern Midwest and another on the West Coast makes at least one of these two similar conferences fairly easy to reach for all fleet managers across the U.S.
At a time of restricted budgets and a lagging economy, travel and training are usually the first things to be cut. Yet the number of registered attendees for the first PFE-W matched the attendance numbers for our first PFE in Grand Rapids. This made the PFE-W attendance noteworthy, especially considering the economy in general and the State of California in particular.
Even more to the point, between 80 and 85 percent of the attendees had never attended a Police Fleet Expo. That means the PFE-W is doing what all of us had hoped—delivering “Management, Technology and Networking” to an almost entirely new audience. This mix of fleet managers at the West Coast PFE-W was also a bit different from the Midwest PFE. Most of the PFE-W attendees came from large agencies with more than 200 cars in their fleets.
The Agency Workshops at the PFE-W were giant, open forum networking sessions divided by agency size. During these workshops, managers of big fleets, medium fleets and small fleets alike found that they all have the same basic problems: our brakes (both pads and rotors) are wearing out too fast, many of us are asking for more electric current from the vehicle than it has available, most of us are forced to keep patrol vehicles too long, and we are all concerned about the next generation of police sedans.
During the Manufacturer Sessions, some of these concerns were addressed. In great detail, the top officials from Ford Fleet presented their Next Generation Police Interceptor (NGPI). In particular, they explained the many ways that the Ford Taurus is just the start, “just the skin,” of the new Ford police sedan set to replace the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. V6 with Front-Wheel Drive, V6 with All-Wheel Drive and twin turbo V6 with All-Wheel Drive.
Center console details for the Ford NGPI are being worked out, as is a larger rear seat volume. Fleet managers at PFE-W got a chance to sit in the engineering model and get a good look at the future. (See the March-April 2010 issue of PFM, which is also available online at www.hendonpub.com under Resources, then Article Archives.)
Likewise, the Chevrolet Caprice was both on display in the exhibit hall and covered in detail during GM Fleet’s presentation. To be the largest police sedan by far, the Chevrolet Caprice will be made by Holden in Australia. Yes, it takes as long to ship it here as it does to build-from-order, and GM Fleet is setting up vehicle inventory programs and replacement part inventory programs to make this a non-issue.
In the first half model year, the big Chevy will be powered by a stump-pulling 6.0L V8 and 6-speed trans. Then the 3.6L Direct Injection V6 will come standard, with the V8 optional. GM Fleet is diligently working on center console solutions so you can have your cake (floor shifter), and eat it too (fully equipped center console). They have come up with one clever solution after another; they know this is a critical area for us (See the September-October 2009 issue of PFM).
Chrysler Group has had its NextGen Charger cards face-down on the felt for a very long time. At the PFE-W, for the first time, Dodge gave us “the flop card” and “the turn card,” but not “the river card”—and the first two dealt cards are still virtually glued to the table.
The first card was a complete above-the-beltline design to dramatically improve visibility forward / upward, past the A-pillar / mirror, and out the back and both rear blind spots. The second card was their new 3.6L Pentastar V6 that will come standard in the 2011 Charger. This is a new generation engine with variable valve timing and Flex Fuel (E-85) capability. They hinted at better seat comfort, wider opening doors, better interior ergonomics and a better selection of OE tires. And yes, with the 2011 Charger, Dodge is “all in.”
Join us at the PFE in St. Louis where “Management, Technology and Networking” is more than a theme—it is a reality of police work. Visit www.policefleetexpo.com.