The Significance of a Police Car That’s Also a Hybrid

Nicholas Clairmont

When Americans picture police cars, they usually picture Fords. The auto giant sells 63 percent of all police cars in the U.S., by its accounting. And now, the cops are getting hybrids. On Monday, Ford announced its new hybrid Police Responder, a version of its Fusion sedan made to spec for law-enforcement work.

Some of the immediate benefits of the rollout are obvious: Police departments will save an estimated $3,800 a year in fuel for each of the old V-6 cars it replaces with new Responders and their less thirsty engines. And a hybrid system’s big battery capacity will help them run the growing, power-hungry array of in-car screens, radios, sensors, and other gear police cars carry, even allowing officers to operate them with the engine off while stationary, when in the past this would require keeping the engine idling. There may even be some tactical benefits for police work: In electric mode, a hybrid Fusion is nearly silent.

“The first specially-built police vehicle was a 1920 Model T,” Joe Hinrichs, the head of Ford’s American business, told me. “And ever since then, we’ve been working with police departments across the country to meet their needs and get them what they’re looking for.” He said that every year, Ford meets with an advisory board of police officers and chiefs, to see what forces say they need. “One of the biggest asks of the last several years has been a greener pursuit-rated vehicles,” he says, referring to requests for a car that is both fuel efficient and can handle chases, clear curbs, and power through extreme weather conditions during emergencies.

It’s been a long road to hybrid cop cars. Police have traditionally driven cars that have an image opposite that of hybrids: mean-looking domestic bruisers that can fit arrestees in the back, cruise on the highway, and get up to speed quickly. Historically, police cars had to be fast. The roots of hot-rodding trace back to crime in the early decades of American motoring, when famous bank robbers such as John Dillinger escaped from heists in fast cars that the police couldn’t keep up with. NASCAR, similarly, arose from the normal-looking (hence “stock cars”) but souped-up vehicles that moonshiners used to run booze past slower cops during the Prohibition Era. This tactic became obsolete as the technology police used improved—no engine is powerful enough to outrun a radio signal—but cops cars have mostly stayed big, American-made, and powerful nonetheless. Ford’s current lineup of police cars is still called the Police Interceptor, a name that can also be found emblazoned on the 428-cubic-inch engine in the legendary GT 500 Mustangs that the car company Shelby made for Ford in the 1960s. Needless to say, they were not exactly designed for fuel efficiency.

Still, despite making good sense, the introduction of police-car hybrids is a strange and even momentous event in automotive history. In 2000, the Toyota Prius appeared in American showrooms and quickly dominated the eco-conscious sector of the car market. The first crop of hybrids that hit the American mass market consisted of gawky, Japanese-produced spectacles, and they kicked off a culture war.

At the 2003 Oscars, Hollywood eschewed the traditional parade of Rolls Royces and limos arriving on the red carpet in favor of Priuses, helpfully provided by a PR-savvy Southern California Toyota dealer. South Park ran an episode in 2006 that mocked hybrid owners for how conspicuously they showed off their moral bona fides. (The episode reaches its climax when a cloud of “smug” generated by hybrid drivers’ self-satisfaction brings some devastating environmental consequences.)

Fast forward to today, and it’s not possible to tell a Ford Fusion hybrid from its conventional internal-combustion counterpart from across the parking lot. On the fringes, a small culture war over hybrids is still being fought, as evidenced by the practice of “rolling coal,” wherein drivers of diesel trucks with vertical smokestacks record themselves flooding their engines to belch clouds of black smoke onto unsuspecting hybrids. But Ford’s new police cars show that hybrids have gone mainstream. Over time, what worked was not convincing everyone to embrace the showiness on display at the Oscars in 2003. It was allowing America to gradually come to think of hybrids simply as cars.

In car culture as in regular culture, cops have traditionally been the opposite of hippies. In the past, a hybrid police car would have been viewed like a cop in a tie-dye uniform offering to light someone’s joint. And yet today, it isn’t. It’s what institutions like the Los Angeles Police Department asked Ford to make to best serve their budgets and the day-to-day needs of their officers. The hybrid—not as a car for green-freaks or as a car to make a statement, but just as a completely regular old car—has finally arrived.

Volvo announces plans to export China-made electric car

The Associated Press

SHANGHAI (AP) — Volvo Cars, the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker, said Wednesday it plans to make electric cars in China for sale worldwide starting in 2019 amid pressure by Beijing for global auto brands to help develop its fledgling industry in alternatives to gasoline.

The announcement at the Shanghai auto show is among a flurry of automakers’ plans for electric models in China, their industry’s biggest market. The ruling Communist Party has the world’s most aggressive electric vehicle goals, both to clean up smog-shrouded cities and seeking the lead in an emerging industry.

On Tuesday, General Motors Co. said it will produce a gasoline-electric hybrid version of its Chevrolet Volt in China. Ford, Volkswagen AG, Nissan Motor Co. and other brands also intend to sell electric models in China, adding to competition in a market that has been dominated by lower-cost Chinese producers.

Volvo said its first pure-electric model will be based on the economy-size CMA platform it shares with Chinese automaker Geely, which bought the Swedish brand from Ford in 2010. It said the name, size and other details were yet to be decided.

“It will be for global export. So it is built from the start to work all over the world,” said Henrik Green, Volvo’s senior vice president for research and development.

Volvo has three factories in China. In 2015 it became the first automaker to export Chinese-made cars to the United States.

Chinese buyers have shown little enthusiasm for electric cars due to concern about cost, reliability and limited range. But Chinese authorities are using a mix of incentives and penalties to push for electric models. Automakers are scrambling to develop models with consumer appeal.

“It’s clear that China wants to take a leading role globally in terms of the regulatory environment and electrification,” said David Schoch, Ford’s president for the Asia-Pacific.

Models on display at Auto Shanghai 2017, the global industry’s biggest marketing event of the year, reflect the conflict between Beijing’s ambitions for environmentally friendly cars and Chinese consumers’ love of hulking, fuel-hungry SUVs.

Nearly every automaker is displaying at least one electric concept vehicle, if not a market-ready model. They range from family-friendly SUVs to futuristic-looking, premium-priced electric muscle cars from Chinese startups such as NextEV and Qiantu.

South Korea’s Kia Motors Co. debuted an SUV-inspired crossover, the K2 Cross, designed for the Chinese market.

GM said its Velite 5 hybrid will be sold by Buick, which has modest sales elsewhere but is GM’s main brand in China. GM’s joint venture with a state-owned automaker, Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp., will make it. Prices will start at 265,800 yuan ($38,600).

The Velite 5 will be able to travel 116 kilometers (72 miles) on one charge, with an added gasoline engine extending that to 768 kilometers (480 miles), GM said. It said the Velite 5 will be the Chinese market’s most energy-efficient hybrid to date and the first able to travel 100 kilometers (60 miles) on the equivalent of less than 1 liter of gasoline.

“Buick is committed to expanding its portfolio of new energy vehicles,” said a GM statement. “It will introduce additional new energy vehicles in China in the next two years, including hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and pure electric vehicles.”

On Tuesday, Volkwagen AG announced plans to launch a pure-electric car in China next year with a state-owned partner. It is to be the first in a full range of pure-electric vehicles for China.

Ford announced plans earlier to manufacture a hybrid sedan, the Mondeo Energi, with a state-owned Chinese partner, Chang’an Automobile Co. It is due to go on sale next year.

One brand still displaying only classic gasoline models was Italy’s Maserati, whose CEO, Reid Bigland, would not say if it might produce an electric or hybrid. China is the biggest market for Maserati’s top-of-the-line Quattroporte sedan and the brand’s total Chinese sales rose 90 percent last year to 12,250.

Regulators jolted the industry by proposing a requirement that electrics account for at least 8 percent of each brand’s production by next year, rising to 10 percent in 2019 and 12 percent in 2020. Automakers say they may be unable to meet those targets and regulators have suggested they might be reduced or postponed.

The government is expanding China’s network of charging stations to reduce “range anxiety,” or buyers’ fear of running out of power. The Cabinet’s planning agency announced a goal in February of having 100,000 public charging stations and 800,000 private stations operating by the end of this year.

Electric cars also are exempt from sales tax and license plate quotas Beijing, Shanghai and other cities use to curb congestion and smog. Still, sales of electric and gasoline-electric hybrids fell 4.4 percent from a year earlier in the first quarter to 55,929 vehicles while SUV purchases rose 21 percent to 2.4 million.

Ford’s Schoch said that as manufacturing volume of batteries — an electric car’s most expensive component — expands, costs should fall, making them competitive with combustion engines.

“That will create a market pull rather than the government forcing action,” he said.

The status of manufacturing electric cars in China is unclear for foreign brands, which are required to work through joint ventures with state-owned Chinese partners that assemble their vehicles.

Previous rules required foreign automakers to hand over key technology to a Chinese partner or pay import taxes even on models produced in China. Foreign companies balked at giving away expensive know-how that might help a potential competitor to develop.

Volvo’s status is unusual. Its Chinese ownership makes it exempt from a requirement to work with a local joint venture partner. But Geely chairman Li Shufu has said he wants its Swedish managers to operate independently.

Volvo has said it hopes to sell a total of 1 million electric and gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles by 2025. The company says it plans to develop plug-in hybrid versions of all its models.

Regulators have eased some regulations in an effort to encourage foreign companies to play a bigger role in developing the Chinese industry but manufacturers say they are waiting to see the final requirements.

Filings: GM plans 300 more self-driving cars

Jim Lynch, and Ian Thibodeau

General Motors Co. plans to put as many as 300 more self-driving vehicles on the road, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission.

Adding the test vehicles would give GM what would appear to be the largest fleet of self-driving cars in the United States. The automaker already is testing more than 50 Chevrolet Bolt EVs with autonomous technology on public roads in Detroit, San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona. The new additions would be tested in those locations as well.

Google-backed Waymo, considered another major player in autonomous testing, currently has 160 vehicles on the road.

On Friday, a GM spokesman declined to discuss details, but issued a statement to The Detroit News that said: “While we do not discuss potential future product plans, our plan is to launch our autonomous vehicle technology first in an on-demand ride-sharing network.”

The contents of the FCC documents were first reported Friday by IEEE Spectrum, the online magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

GM officials successfully sought FCC approval last month for dedicating part of the radio spectrum for the company’s dedicated short-range communications that would allow GM cars to “talk” to each other and to sensors on roads. GM sought use of the 78-81 GHz range to allow partner Alps Electrics’ radar to work effectively.

Documentation from the lobbying effort provided a small glimpse of the automakers’ plans: Alps Electric officials sought to test its equipment in 300 vehicles.

“The plan is to conduct the experiment in private test facilities, roads, vehicle access-ways and parking facilities in metropolitan areas,” Alps Electric’s John Cabigao wrote in an April 4 email to an FCC official.

GM’s autonomous work with San Francisco-based Cruise Automation, acquired by GM last year, is bolstering its development of self-driving cars. Earlier this week, GM received an $8 million tax credit package from the state of California. Those credits will allow the automaker to invest $14 million in facilities for Cruise Automation and hire 1,100 more workers.

GM also is working with Lyft Inc. to develop a fleet of self-driving Bolts that would be used for ride-sharing.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in December announced it had completed building 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to be retrofitted with an autonomous driving system developed by Google Inc.’s self-driving car project, Waymo. Waymo’s fleet of vehicles at the time included 24 Lexus RX450h SUVs and 34 Google prototype vehicles.

Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. announced late in 2016 that it would triple the number of its autonomous test vehicles in 2017, which would increase the size of the fleet to 90. Ford is testing the driverless cars in Michigan, California and Arizona; drivers are behind the steering wheel, ready to take over in an emergency. The company has vowed to have a fully driverless car without a steering wheel or pedals for braking and acceleration on the road in 2021.

In February, Ford also announced it would invest $1 billion over five years into a new artificial intelligence company, Argo AI, to develop the brains of its self-driving cars. In August 2016, Ford announced four investments and partnerships that it said would help it with its autonomous vehicle development.

They included investing $75 million in Velodyne, a LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensor company; acquiring SAIPS, a computer vision and machine learning company; investing in Civil Maps to further develop 3-D mapping; and inking an exclusive licensing agreement with Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC, a machine vision company.

The documents connected to GM’s push to secure space on the spectrum show company officials expressing confidence in their place in the push for autonomous vehicles. A March letter from GM to the FCC recapped an earlier meeting between GM and FCC officials that described comments made by John Capp, the carmaker’s director of global safety, strategy and vehicle programs.

“He explained that while GM is leading the industry with the deployment of the CTS, this technology is no different than others in… that in order to further develop the safety benefits, more testing must be done.”

A later passage in that same letter reads: “The (FCC) Chairman asked Mr. Capp and (GM’s Scott Geisler) if the other automakers are on the same aggressive timeline. They let him know that, while GM is ahead of others, GM believes that other, too, are also working on deployment…”

GMC Acadia

The Acadia is the one ride that packs the triple comforts of a spacious passenger room, a comfy, smooth ride, and excellent cargo space…all into one fabulous car. With top crash tests and generous seating capacity, it is easy to see why it ranks so high in the cross-over category of family cars.
The GMC Acadia is a versatile three row ride, which has seen several full redesign changes since its inception, including an infotainment system upgraded to a 4LTE Wi-Fi capacity. Its serene interior space with a quiet cabin enhances some of its infotainment features retained from previous iterations. Its manoeuvrability takes time to master, because of its speed and size, as well as its acceleration, which is appropriate for the car.

If your top priority is space, including legroom, then the GMC Acadia tops in its category, way ahead of the other competitors in its class. The GMC comes in three trims: SLE, SLT and Denali, with the SLE trims broken down to SLT-1 and SLT-2, SLE-1 and SLE-2.

The standard features prominent in SLE-1 include cruise control, cloth upholstery, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, touchscreen electronic interfaces and roof rails. The SLE-2 trim adds an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, an Interlink electronic interface and a two-way passenger seat. Unlike the SLE, the SLT-1 has 19-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, upgraded steering, and heated front seats. The SLT-1 premium edition has 20- inch alloy wheels.

The SLT-2 trim adds a blind spot warning, driver memory functions and a heated steering wheel to the SLE features while the Denali has a 20-inch wheels, extra soundproofing, dual-pane sunroof and a special exterior styling.

The GMC Acadia has a 3.6 litre V6 engine that works with a six-speed automatic transmission. This V6 engine packs 266 pound-feet of torque with a 281 horsepower. This family car has an optional all-wheel drive and the standard front wheel drive on all trims. Its acceleration at around 8.1 seconds on 0-60 is standard for most spacious crossovers.

The Acadia is an extremely safe car fitted with stability control, rear-view mirrors, antilock disc brakes and front-seat side-impact airbags. All trims have the front center airbag except the SLE-1. It also features lane departure warning, remote door locking, stolen vehicle locator and an automatic crash notification.

The car has a five-star rating for both its front and side impact crash and the highest score in roof strength tests as well as a seat/head restraint design. The car has a padded, soft interior with a helpful rear-view mirror and interlink smartphone integrated features, that are advanced, aesthetically pleasing and functional.

With its spacious cabin and generous load capacity, Acadia remains the quintessential American family car.

Lexus 200h CT

The 2016 Lexus 200h CT is the most fuel-efficient gas powered luxury car that offers a sturdy handling, F-sport styling, and eco-friendly interior with NuLuxe trim and bamboo accents.

No other car enthusiast can resist this technology loaded luxury hybrid car in multiple colors and in a show-stopping design, available at the affordable rate of $31,250. The leather trimmed heated front seats and the climate control system make each long journey comfortable in every season. The moon roof feature gives a great opportunity to enjoy the weather when it is great. The vehicle comes with a removable cargo area cover that assists in keeping luggage safely hidden and the space is enough to store luggage for a long journey. The 10-speaker sound system is perfect for providing clear sound for enjoying movies or music from the HD radio while travelling. The addition of the Electro chromic mirrors adds to the style of the car and it decreases the glare coming from behind the vehicle.
Lexus Enform Remote assists in operating many features of the car such as unlocking the vehicle without the key with just a touch of the remote. The Home link system is great in operating the home door and the garage. The home security system can also be operated through it even when the owner is not at home. The voice command system keeps the driver focused on the road. There are multiple driving modes from which the driver can choose and enjoy the ride. Pre-collision system alerts the driver when there is a chance of any frontal collision. The pedestrian system detects the walking person and avoids an accident through the brakes. There are multiple braking systems that help in avoiding accidents. Four-wheel disc brakes and the Brake Assist system contain sensors that work well if there is a possibility of collision.

Four-sensor and the Electronic Brake force Distribution assists in enhancing the control when the driver applies the brakes. Rain sensing wipers turn on automatically when the rain starts and the speed of the wipers is adjusted according to the volume of the rain. When the driver is going to park the car or reverse it; the intuitive parking assist keeps the driver from hitting any object. 8 airbags are present in the car which are deployed if the car collides with any car or object. The tire pressure is checked by the system in the car and the driver is alerted if the pressure is less in any of the 4 tires. There are many cameras for the assistance of the driver, which is required for avoiding an accident.

If you’re looking for a hybrid car that is eco-conscious even in the interior, makes safety their number one priority, and has a sports-luxe style, the 2016 Lexus 200h CT is for you.