If you’re the getaway driver, seeing the cops coming after you in a fleet of hybrids may be a reassuring sight. What, they’re gonna chase me down in those things? But, as the triumphant officers will surely tell you as you sit in your cell, pairing an electric motor with a petite gasoline engine doesn’t just make a car eco-friendly. It can make it faster off the line, not to mention more comfortable, and practical for police purposes.
Ford’s betting the advantages of hybrids are enough to convince cops around the country to buy its new Police Responder Hybrid Sedan—the first ever “pursuit rated” hybrid. To earn its badge, this beefed up Fusion braved speed and handling trials, raced over 8-inch curbs, blasted through a railroad crossing at 30 mph, sprinted and screeched to a halt.
It got through it all thanks to a series of upgrades. Ford’s police vehicle engineering team added a heavy duty suspension, extra cooling, and ditched fancy alloys for basic wheels and hubcaps. They played Santa’s elves with the police wish list: Bullet proof doors. Front seats anti-stab plates, and slim side bolsters, to better fit officers wearing equipment belts. A wipe clean rear seat. A pre-drilled hole in the windscreen surround for a spotlight.
Despite all the heavy enhancements, the cruiser delivers 38 miles to the gallon (the standard Fusion Hybrid does 42), compared to the current Police Interceptor’s 18 mpg.
“Patrol vehicles are a police officer’s office,” LAPD chief Carlie Beck said in a statement. “We expect them to not only be economically and environmentally efficient but also an effective tool for fighting crime in major metropolitan areas.”
The Responder Hybrid Sedan runs a two-liter engine coupled to an electric motor. The car can run in electric-only mode up to 60 mph (for short periods), useful for quiet patrolling. But when the driver mashes the accelerator, the car’s computer dials in “pursuit mode,” firing up the gas engine and reconfiguring vehicle systems to deliver maximum performance. Engineers retuned the regenerative braking to aggressively charge the battery whenever the vehicle slows, so that there’s always some charge left for the next acceleration boost.