big Ford news from their recent Fleet Preview and Police Advisory Board meeting
was reasonable proof of market dominance. Market share fluctuates up and down
based on a number of factors. The announcement of a new vehicle may suppress
sales of a current vehicle pending the production of the new vehicle or one
with new features. Departments may hold off purchases waiting on the AWD
version of the Charger, the NextGen version of the Tahoe, or the 3.5L V6
EcoBoost version of the Ford PI Utility, which went on sale in December of 2013
and is available now.
the month-to-month market share may fluctuate based on a big purchase of any
one make or model. Even the end and start of a fiscal year (July 1, October 1,
and January 1) may affect overall sales and market share. Of course, the end
and beginning of a model year may have an effect. A brutal winter might not
affect sales but can definitely interrupt deliveries. Finally, sales orders,
vehicle deliveries and vehicle registrations may all give slightly different
market share results. Heads-up. Not all police vehicles are registered by the
all these reasons, Ford has been cautious about market share claims. Recently
however, the trends and fluctuations have stabilized. Ford has solid numbers
that place them in the 50 to 55 percent market share of the police vehicle
market. This is based on combined sales of the PI Sedan and PI Utility. As a
point of reference, the Ford CVPI alone had between 70 and 75 percent of the
market for the past 20 years.
this rise to market leadership, the ratio of PI Sedan to PI Utility has
dramatically changed. What started off as a 65:35 in favor of the Taurus-based
PI Sedan has completely reversed. The most recent numbers put it as 60:40 in
favor of the Explorer-based PI Utility. The announcement of the 365 hp 3.5L
EcoBoost V6 in the PI Utility promises to even further “boost” the popularity
of the PI Utility.
Police Advisory Board
Police Advisory Board is made up of more than 20 police officers and fleet
managers equally selected from big city, county, state and federal; America and
Canada; rural and urban; and from all regions of the US. The PAB acts as a
sounding board for ideas, concepts and proposals presented from Ford Fleet. In
turn, the PAB gives feedback from in-service use of Ford police vehicles.
PAB members are typically the first to know about service concerns, perhaps
small and isolated, perhaps major and trending to widespread. This is a two-way
dialogue at its most frank, if not outspoken and open. The exchanges between
Ford and its PAB are cop-to-cop honest. PAB members also act as Ford’s
spokesmen to the police community. If you have a concern, or question, the
contact information for every PAB member is on Ford’s website.
fleet manager should be familiar with how to fill out the global concern
reporting process. That is the fastest, highest profile, most reliably way to
notify Ford of a possible service issue. Have the VIN available.
its formation, PAB members have had three-year terms, with one-third of the
members rotating off every year and new members joining every year. Ford had
the wisdom to halt this rotation near the end of the CVPI production. By
freezing the PAB membership immediately before the start of the NextGen Police
Interceptor project, gave a consistency to the PAB throughout the early development
and launch of what became the NextGen Police Interceptors. It also allowed
those PAB members, who often met three times a year, to claim ownership of the
NextGen vehicles, to see the fruit of their labor, to be a part of it all from
start to finish.
the first time since the Explorer America Concept was unveiled at the 2008
Detroit Auto Show, some members of the PAB have “graduated.” Representatives
from the Massachusetts State Police, and eight others were honored at the PAB
with the words, “You have helped design the Next Generation of police vehicles
for the Next Generation of police officers,” said Fritz Ahadi, General Manager,
Commercial and Government Fleet Sales.
New and Upcoming
PI Sedan and PI Utility have successfully passed the Introduction stage in the
product life cycle. In fact, the police sales figures clearly show both PIs to
be in the Growth stage. That is the time when there have been enough units in the
field to start receiving a consistent feedback—what officers like, and what
little tweaks need to be made.
2015, the payload rating on the PI Sedan was changed from a vehicle generic
label to a vehicle specific payload label. The original payload rating was 950
pounds, and is now reflected specifically for each vehicle depending on options
between 1220 and 1340 pounds. This payload rating is extremely important to
some agencies and even affects the selection of patrol vehicle.
far, the most important change to the PI Sedan is the area of ingress (enter)
and egress (exit). The longer nylon tether on the front doors was a running
change almost a year ago. This allows the driver’s door to open slightly (just
slightly) wider. Ford Fleet is considering options to even widen the door
opening arc farther.
said, for 2015 Ford will be making a slam-dunk change to the body opening to
allow much, much easier entry and exit. The two-piece plastic trim panel
attached to the PI Sedan B-pillar has been totally changed. Instead of squared-off
trim pieces, the moldings now closely follow the layers of B-pillar sheet steel
behind the trim pieces. This has got to be one of the smallest changes for the
biggest improvement in automotive history. No kidding.
full duty gear, it is now relatively easy for most police officers to enter and
exit the PI Sedan. None of the actual sheet steel of the body opening has
changed, just the two-piece, upper and lower trim panel. This change will be,
of course, made on both the driver and passenger side. While it does not
completely resolve the issue for taller officers, it greatly helps them. The
(essentially) wider left-right opening makes the up-down head duck much easier
to do for taller officers.
only does the new B-pillar trim allow easier entry and exit, it also allows the
left elbow to move farther to the rear while seated. As a surprise bonus, the
two new trim pieces can be retrofitted to all NextGen PI Sedans. Production of
the new vehicle begins in August 2014. These new trim pieces should be
available as parts shortly after that.
only drawback to the new B-pillar pieces is the seat belt ring is no longer
height adjustable. Instead, it is fixed in the upward-most position. This is
the seat belt position most PI Sedans are driven in anyhow.
New Police Seats
is making a number of improvements to the front seats in both the PI Sedan and
PI Utility. These vehicles have always used the same front seats and will
continue to do so.
the side bolsters on both the inboard side and outboard side are being reduced
in height. This will reduce (?) the fabric wear.
Lower seat bottom bolsters will make it 1) easier to enter and exit; 2) allow
more room for the muzzle and butt of the duty gun (left or right hand); and 3) reduce
the fabric wear on the bolster itself. In addition, the upper seat back
bolsters are also being reduced. This will also make it easier to enter and
exit, and also allow more room for the holster, which get squeezed above the seat
bottom, in front of the seat back and under the seat belt.
three recent and new for 2015 changes (low-profile B-pillar trim pieces, longer
door tether, lower seat bolsters) will make it much, much easier to enter and
exit the PI Sedan.
More Durable Fabric
other change to the PI Sedan and PI Utility seats is to a more durable,
wear-resistant fabric. In police use, there were three sources of wear. First,
wear to the bottom bolster and insert simply by sliding in and out of the seat.
Second, wear to the back bolster and insert from the gun butt, especially from
handguns with metal magazine base plates. Third, wear to the seat back insert
from the exposed Velcro® on the duty belt.
responded with a police-specific wear test. This new test method goes beyond
the retail wear tests and includes worst-case police equipment. As a result,
they made both fabric and foam changes to the 2015 seats. The new combination
has two to three times the wear resistance and durability of the materials used
Better Foot Ergonomics in Utility
2015, Ford will also be making a big improvement to the foot box area on the PI
Utility. They are moving the left side “dead pedal” (foot rest) forward by 3 inches.
At the same time, they are tilting the top of the foot rest up, i.e., the top inclined
more to the driver. This helps both left foot room and offers a more natural
foot placement angle.
as important, they are increasing the lateral space between the dead pedal and
the brake pedal 2 inches to the left, i.e., increasing the gap to the brake
pedal by 2 inches. This allows the left leg to more easily stretch out and
extend all the way to the toe board. For officers who spend a lot of time in
the PI Utility, this is a major improvement in driver comfort. This redesigned
dead pedal is for the PI Utility only, but Ford is studying such a change to
the PI Sedan.
Special Service Police Sedan
had earlier announced a 2.0L EcoBoost I-4 as a maximum fuel economy but
non-pursuit option on the Taurus Sedan. Since the engine and tires were about
the only non-police package components on this admin-oriented vehicle, Ford
gave it a composite name Special Service Police. This perfect-for-the-task
sedan was covered in detail in the May-June 2014 issue of Police Fleet Manager. The 2.0L SSP Sedan was available for PAB
members to test drive.
other police-oriented announcement made earlier was the 365 hp, 3.5L EcoBoost
V6 option on the Police Interceptor. Contrary to concerns about too much
horsepower for the PI Utility, the EcoBoost version is responsive but does not
turn the police crossover into a tire-burning speed demon. The 365hp Utility
proved the point at the annual Los Angeles County Sheriff vehicle test.
400 pounds of ballast in the cargo area, the 3.5L EcoBoost PI Utility had
exactly the same lap times as the average (base) V6-powered police sedan from
Chevy, Dodge and Ford. That’s right…it takes a 365 hp V6 in a crossover to
equal the performance of a 300 hp V6 in a sedan. Look for an in-depth review of
the 3.5L EcoBoost PI Sedan in the Sept-Oct 2014 issue of Police Fleet Manager.
with the 305 hp 3.7L V6, the PI Utility is now doing the work of bigger SUVs
and pickups. There is plenty of room in the Utility for four Haneai mechanical
indicator scales. Commercial enforcement officers simply do not need bigger,
slower, less fuel efficient vehicles. The pursuit-rated, PI Utility can easily
hold the 160 pounds.
New Muni Fleet Vehicles
police and sheriff’s departments that use the Ford E-series van, Ford
introduced a totally new full-size van, the Transit. This NextGen service van
is important to Ford since one of every three commercial vehicles they sell is
biggest news of all from Ford is their totally redesigned, aluminum body F-150
pickup. The use of mil-spec aluminum instead of steel shaves 700 pounds of
weight. The frame will continue to be high-strength steel, as will some crash
safety-related structural components. The lighter body allows the F-150 to have
a higher haul rating, a higher tow rating, faster acceleration, and better fuel
economy. Since red rust is no longer a possibility, Ford expects the residual
value to also rise. The powertrain options include the 5.0L V8, 3.5L V6, 3.5L
EcoBoost V6 and new for 2015, 2.7L EcoBoost V6.
LASD Test Results
PAB heard a presentation on the Los Angeles County Sheriffs vehicle tests. The
LASD tests have a different focus than the Michigan State Police tests. The
LASD tests are, not surprisingly, urban and suburban oriented while the MSP
tests are more rural and highway oriented. The LASD tests do not include top
speed testing but do include a real-world fuel economy test.
PI Sedan and PI Utility did extremely well overall at LASD in all of their
available powertrains. For a detailed review of the LASD tests, see the March-April
2014 issue of Police Fleet Manager or
check the Article Archives at www.hendonpub.com
year will be the MSP and LASD tests to watch. In the past, all Ford vehicles
were run with the stability control in the “full-on” or default mode. The
Dodges ran in the “partial-off” mode, while the Chevys ran in the “partial-off”
with the transmission set to “sport” mode. These other modes require the driver
to reset the mode every key cycle, i.e., every time the car is started. For
2015, a much more common-sense test protocol will be used. At both MSP and
LASD, the vehicles will be tested in the key stroke cycle, default position.
The LASD will also be using a brand-new city pursuit course in 2015. It is going
to be interesting.
Important New Options
for 2015, the PI Sedan and PI Utility can be upfitted with Havis Integrated
Control System. This 12.1-inch embedded screen is a joint effort between the
Los Angeles Police Department, Havis, Ford, Lectronix and Crown North America.
See the January-February 2014 issue of Police
Fleet Manager for complete coverage on this fully integrated, in-dash
unveiled an interesting lighting option for the PI Utility. It is a 6 LED light
mounted on the trailing edge of the rear window spoiler. The LEDs can serve as
a traffic advisor or as any color emergency lights. Flash patterns are
programmable, as is a dimmer option. With many crossovers being used as
slicktops, and the heavy tint on the rear lift gate glass, the spoiler mounted
lights are an excellent solution.