MILFORD, Mich. -- Chevrolet is touting the Caprice's rear-wheel drive and interior space as it prepares to take orders for its new police car.
Chevrolet dealers will begin taking orders next month for the automaker's first rwd police car since 1996.
Although the vehicle “has a smaller overall exterior, the Caprice has more interior volume than a Crown Victoria,” said Al Oppenheiser, the vehicle's chief engineer.
The first cars, unmarked sedans, will arrive here in April. Orders for patrol cars will begin in January with delivery in June. Both will be 2011 models and carry a $30,995 sticker price before fleet incentives.
The Caprice will be assembled by GM's Holden subsidiary in Australia and shipped to a California port. When full production begins for the 2012 model year, Chevrolet expects orders will be processed and cars delivered in 14 to 16 weeks. The cars will have a five-year/100,000-mile warranty.
The Ford Crown Victoria has been the top selling police car since the demise of the original Caprice. Law enforcement agencies prefer rwd for its better handling characteristics, especially in high-speed pursuits. Last decade, Chevrolet introduced a police version of the front-drive Impala, but that vehicle never reached the sales success of the original Caprice.
However, Ford will discontinue the Crown Victoria next year -- opening up opportunities for Chevrolet and Dodge. Ford will replace the Crown Victoria with a heavy-duty version of the fwd Taurus. Dodge already offers a law enforcement version of the rwd Charger. That car will be re-engineered and restyled, and it will be available to police departments next year.
Chevrolet plans to discontinue the Impala police car package either in 2011 or 2012.
Joyce Mattman, GM's product director for fleet and commercial vehicles, said police car sales often lead to other purchases.
“If you win the police business, there is a halo effect on the rest of the city and municipal fleet business for other cars and other trucks they buy. Often times, they have one dealership they want to work with for their entire city fleet” especially for service and parts, Mattman said in an interview today on the sidelines of a press event at GM's proving grounds.
The 2011 Caprice will be available with one engine: a 355-hp 6.0-liter V-8 with 384 pounds feet of torque. The engine features cylinder deactivation and can operate on E85. A six-speed transmission is standard.
The car has a top speed of 160 mph and can accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in less than six seconds, GM said.
A 3.6-liter V-6 will be offered for the 2012 model year. Specifications were not released.
The Caprice has a four-wheel independent suspension with heavy-duty components. Coolers are used to reduce the temperature of the engine oil, and transmission and power steering fluids.
The Caprice will only be available to law enforcement agencies. A retail version is not planned.
Typically, police car sales are dependent on a good economy. GM estimates that about 60,000 police vehicles were sold in 2007. This year that number might fall to 45,000.
Despite the recession, there are still opportunities, Mattman said.
“Departments have to replace cars so they can't take that number down to zero,” she said.