Washington, D.C. – Ford’s Pursuit Interceptor Utility already dominates the police vehicle market, the Explorer-based SUV having long since passed sedans as the No. 1 choice, so the automaker must offer new versions to gain market share.
Enter the hybrid version of the Interceptor utility, a gas-electric vehicle.
The vehicle’s entry into the market is interesting for a few reasons, most notably because a powertrain will be available to police departments but not the public. There is no hybrid version of the current Explorer, though Ford officials have suggested that one is one the way for the 2020 model year.
So, the hybrid Interceptor Utility could be seen as a test model for the upcoming Explorer, or it could be a purpose-built vehicle for police departments. Ford officials aren’t saying either way.
“We’re committed to electrifying vehicles for all customers, including law enforcement who need the high performance and low operating costs that Ford’s next-generation hybrids will excel at providing,” said Hau Thai-Tang, executive vice president of Product Development and Purchasing.
Batteries for the hybrid-electric system have been engineered for placement inside the vehicle, without taking up more passenger or cargo space – implying that engineers are focusing on overcoming some weaknesses of some hybrid models.
Purpose-built hybrids and electric vehicles, such as the Chevy Bolt EV and Toyota Prius, tend to find creative ways of keeping batteries out of passenger/cargo space. Vehicles retrofitted for hybrid drive, including a hybrid version of the previous-generation Explorer, tend to lose trunk and seating space.
Fuel economy certification isn’t complete, but Ford officials expect the Police Interceptor Utility hybrid to have a projected EPA-estimated combined label of at least 24mpg – approximately 40% improvement over the current 3.7L V6.
Anticipated fuel economy gains, combined with expected fuel savings from reduced engine idling time, are expected to help save law-enforcement customers an estimated $3,200 per vehicle in yearly fuel bills versus the current Police Interceptor Utility.
Sales of Ford Police Interceptor Utility are up 5% through May this year, building on five straight years of sales growth and capturing 65% of the total U.S. police vehicle market.
The hybrid will cut engine idling time to save fuel when the vehicle is stationary, allowing vehicles to power demanding electrical loads from lights, computers, radios, and other equipment using its lithium-ion hybrid battery.
The Ford Police Interceptor hybrid will be built at Ford Chicago Assembly plant and up-fitted at Ford’s Chicago Modification Center. It goes on sale next summer.