Be on the Lookout for a Green Squad Car - Pacific Standard

Be on the Lookout for a Green Squad Car

Forget black and white — the new police car in development by Carbon Motors Corporation has green written all over it.
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How would you feel if I told you that a new car could save taxpayer money, create American jobs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions?

The E7, Carbon Motors Corporation's new "police car for police," hopes to do just that. It will be the first vehicle built specifically with the civilian police force in mind. (How many Honda Civics do you see with optional "weapons-of-mass-destruction sensors"?)

After the loss of thousands of jobs in the American auto industry over the last several years, it may seem surprising that a new automaker has emerged with plans to produce only one product. But Carbon Motors Corporation, founded in Los Angeles in 2003, believes it can target a niche market and still post a profit.

The CMC blog estimates that the average police cruiser — think Ford's Crown Victoria — gets only 11 miles per gallon. The estimated combined city/highway fuel economy of the E7 is 28-30 mpg.

The 450,000 law enforcement vehicles on the road in the United States consume 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline and emit 14 million tons of CO2 every year. If CMC's estimates are correct, the E7 could reduce both of these by up to 40 percent.

CMC plans to refurbish a shuttered manufacturing facility in Connersville, Ind., to produce the cars. Connersville is located in Fayette County, which is experiencing 16 percent unemployment. The company estimates its operations will create 1,500 new — and "green" — jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs throughout the state and region.

The cost of an E7 has been estimated between $40,000 and $100,000, but CMC has said that the price will be comparable to a retail passenger car outfitted with law enforcement equipment. Police departments across the country have already reserved 12,000 of the vehicles.

The E7 is expected to hit the streets in 2012, pending the approval of CMC's application to the Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program, which supports clean energy projects that use innovative technologies to help sustain economic growth, yield environmental benefits and produce a more stable and secure energy supply.

However, the new police car will not be without competition from existing automakers loathe to lose lucrative domestic fleet sales.

Ford recently announced its plans to phase out the Crown Victoria police car, which commands about 75 percent of the police car market, and replace it by 2011 with a "purpose-built" police interceptor. The new model and specifications should be unveiled in the first quarter of next year, although fuel efficiency will reportedly be one of its improvements.

Chevrolet, which hopes to increase its share in the police car market from 17 to 40 percent, announced in early October that the Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle will be available to law enforcement agencies nationwide in 2011. A GM press release announcing the vehicle made no mention of its fuel economy.

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