The first trickle of Australian-built Caprice police cars have been delivered by U.S. Chevrolet dealers.
General Motors reported that 23 cars were sold in May to law enforcement agencies that it didn't identify. The rear-wheel-drive car is assembled by GM's Holden subsidiary in Australia and shipped to an outfitter in California.
The Caprice sedan shares a platform with the Chevrolet Camaro and the discontinued Pontiac G8 sedan.
GM spokesman Tom Henderson said non-pursuit detective versions of the 2011 Caprice were delivered. The high-speed pursuit model will be shipped later this year. The rwd sedan is available with V-6 and V-8 engines.
Henderson would not say how many orders Chevrolet has received for the Caprice. The car is available only to law enforcement agencies.
"Sales will be reported as dealers deliver cars," and June deliveries will be higher, Henderson said.
He said the pursuit models will greatly outnumber the detective models.
Total U.S. police car sales can average 65,000 to 70,000 units annually in nonrecession years and dramatically less in a weak economy.
GM has been aggressively targeting the police car market, offering early prototypes to major police departments for evaluation.
The most popular model with police agencies, the aging Crown Victoria, will be dropped by Ford this year. Ford will offer a heavy-duty version of the Taurus next year, called Ford Interceptor, in both front-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.
GM and Chrysler are expected to grab a bigger share with the Crown Victoria's demise. But Chrysler is a small player in the police-car market.
The Caprice is expected to replace the front-wheel-drive Chevrolet Impala, in the police-car market. Police agencies generally prefer a rear-wheel drive configuration.
The demise of the Crown Victoria is expected to provide opportunities for the Dodge Charger, a rear-wheel-drive model that comes in a police pursuit version.