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Science & Technology

New Ford Police Hybrid Set To Save Police Departments Money While Protecting The Environment

Joseph Dandron
The 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid SUV on display at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

At the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, not all of the cars on display are intended for the average consumer. Ford Motor Company is showing off a police vehicle that could save police departments money, and be eco-friendly at the same time. WKAR’s Karel Vega has more.

Chances are you've seen police cars idling on the side of the road or sitting in a parking lot. That’s no surprise considering all of the hardware like radios and computers that officers have to manage  inside of their vehicles.

Even when the car’s not moving, those gadgets require power to stay on. In a conventional gasoline engine vehicle that means fuel constantly burning, and that can cost a lot of money.

That’s the problem that the 2020 Ford Interceptor Utility Hybrid alleviates.

Based on the Ford Explorer with some added reinforcements like a push bar and ballistic door panels, the Interceptor has been the number one police vehicle on the market since the Crown Victoria was retired. Ford says the 2017 Interceptor made up more than half of all police car sales in the country.

Steven Tyler is Police Brand Marketing Manager for Ford. He explained the new Interceptor’s hybrid powertrain can keep the car running with less gasoline.

“In the hybrid vehicle it’ll power all that equipment off the [lithium ion] hybrid battery that’s in the vehicle." He said. "It allows the engine to shut off for major periods of time, coming on intermittently to charge the battery, you know, keep it topped off. But it’s only running about 20 percent of the time on idle compared to 100 percent of the time in a gas engine.”

Credit Joseph Dandron / WKAR-MSU

Tyler said that combined with the improvement in fuel economy that a hybrid vehicle brings, police departments could save thousands of dollars per vehicle each year.

Besides saving money, the hybrid Interceptor  also has fewer carbon emissions.

In 2014 the East Lansing city council passed a resolution directing departments in the city to research and use environmentally friendly vehicles when possible.

Steve Gonzalez is the Deputy Police Chief for the East Lansing Police Department. And, he said the benefits of hybrid vehicles go beyond decreased fuel costs.

“We run our patrol cars 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. So when you consider the amount of greenhouse gasses that those vehicles are potentially putting into the environment, by switching to a hybrid vehicle we could decrease our carbon footprint, and you know, hopefully have a better impact with our local environment here by switching to a hybrid vehicle.”

In addition to its hybrid benefits, Tyler said the 2020 Interceptor also has new security features to lock the car down in case of an attack.

“It uses sensors on the vehicle to detect motion. And the new thing is it analyzes that motion to determine whether or not it’s threatening behavior. So, if a jogger let's say is running parallel to the rear of the vehicle it’s not gonna set the system off. And if someone is coming at the vehicle in a threatening manner the system knows to arm itself”

Tyler said you can expect to see the new Interceptors on the road this summer.

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