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Advantages of the Impala
As GM's manager of law enforcement and specialty vehicles, Bruce Wiley can quote chapter and verse on the Chevrolet Impala Police Car. He has spent considerable time talking to officers, fleet managers and other law enforcement personnel getting them to consider Chevrolet.
“It’s really a matter of education,” he said. “When I tell people the advantages of Impala as a law enforcement vehicle, they are surprised and intrigued.”
So what are the advantages? Here's Wiley's “Top Five” list:
Impala costs law enforcement agencies several thousand dollars less to initially purchase.
“It's simply less expensive," Wiley said. “When you look at comparably equipped models, fleet managers could save their organizations between $3000 and $5000 dollars per vehicle. That's a lot of cash.”
With a fuel economy differential of eight to 12 mpg, Impala is more economical to operate. Impala has the best fuel economy of a V6 in the industry at 19 mpg (city) and 29 mpg (highway). That's a detail fleet managers really take into consideration, Wiley said.
“If you figure a dollar a gallon—that's the price of gas minus the taxes—and you estimate 30,000 miles of use per year, that's considerable savings,” he explained.
Impala is the only police vehicle ever built from initial concept as a police vehicle, and can thus boast incomparable durability.
“Impala was designed and engineered to withstand the rigors of a 24-hour duty cycle,” Wiley said. “No other manufacturer can say that.”
Because Impala was designed as a police car, engineers built technology into the vehicle that would make it easier for law enforcement to use. It has a fully integrated electrical system with specially designed body harnesses that make it simple for officers to upfit.
“Impala’s wiring harnesses were designed right into the base system, which makes it virtually ‘plug & play’ for law enforcement,” Wiley said. “There's no splicing of wires or cobbling of connections.”
In addition, Impala’s alternator has the highest rated idle output in the industry, with more than 96 amps at idle.
“Impala also has an idle boost feature that will increase alternator output if necessary, and an idle discharge operation that automatically turns off unneeded feature rear defogger if equipment demands additional voltage.”
That’s vital, Wiley explained, because when officers are at a crime scene or accident, they don’t have to worry about draining the vehicle’s battery while supporting emergency equipment.
Brakes are another example where Impala excels.
“We’ve got the highest rated vehicle deceleration in the industry, with 29 fps2,” he said. “That's basically a one g-force deceleration rate.”
That translates to 15 feet shorter stopping distance than Ford or Chrysler in a 60-to-zero panic stop. Braking tests were completed during Michigan State Police tests in September of 2002. But how was it accomplished?
“We have the most technologically advanced ABS system out there,” Wiley explained. “We also developed a brake lining material that gives excellent stopping power while still providing longevity. I actually have letters from police officers that boast 25,000-mile brake life, which is unheard of. So that translates into lower operating costs as well.”
Wiley said because the vehicle is front wheel drive, it presents advantages in handling and maneuverability that rear wheel drive vehicles just can't offer.
“Obviously the advantages in inclement weather are numerous,” he said. “But just in terms of general drivability, the Impala offers tremendous nimbleness and handling.”
One myth Wiley would like to dispel is that officers have to be taught how to handle a front wheel drive vehicle.
“Officers trained in late apex driving can drive the Impala,” Wiley said. “We've worked with the Michigan State Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and they agree. Anyone trained in late apex driving methods can drive this vehicle.”
Ease of Use/Upfitting
The final reason for considering Impala is that the vehicle is easy to upfit. Because of the auxiliary power supply, law enforcement officers can easily modify Impala. The vehicle is comfortable, too. Although built on a midsize architecture, the EPA classifies Impala as a large car due to its interior volume. That’s something that is noticed by officers.
“There is a lot of room in the Impala,” Wiley said. “The trunk is large to accommodate extra equipment and the seats are comfortable.”
Seat comfort is another example of designing the vehicle for law enforcement use. Because officers spend large amounts of time in their vehicles, engineers worked with a physical therapist who made recommendations on seat comfort. In addition, longer duration seat tests were implemented specifically for Impala.
“There was a great deal of input from many people to make the Impala a great choice for law enforcement,” Wiley said. “In terms of initial cost, fuel, maintenance, technology, ease of use and comfort, there's nothing better.”
Carolyn Normandin is a manager with Chevrolet Communications.
Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jan/Feb 2002
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