Are electric vehicles the future of police vehicles?
February 23, 2022 By Dave Brown
Results from the Michigan State Police 2022 police vehicle tests
2022 will be a significant year for the annual Michigan State Police (MSP) police vehicles evaluation program. If you skip ahead to the list of vehicles in this article, there will be one standout new entry in a sea of very capable vehicles not significantly changed from 2021. In a pilot program to test the viability of a full electric vehicle against the current crop of police patrol vehicles, Ford entered the Mustang Mach-E. The Mach-E rounds out a field of 11 vehicles that the Michigan State Police tested for the 2022 model year.
Ford is once again the number one selling pursuit-rated police vehicle in Canada, and the Ford Police Interceptor Utility with the twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 EcoBoost engine is also fastest gas-engine patrol vehicle 0-60 MPH, 0-100 MPH and top speed (148 MPH). For 2022, Ford has introduced a new Heated Sanitization Solution software program in their gas engine and hybrid models that heats the interior to 133 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, sufficient to sanitize interior surfaces 99 per cent from viruses, including COVID-19. The program can also be retrofitted to existing Ford police vehicles, from 2013 to 2021.
Dodge is going almost across the board with all-wheel-drive powertrains. Dodge is still the last remaining supplier of pursuit-rated police sedans in North America, and their 2022 Dodge Charger Pursuit is available in an all-wheel-drive (AWD) version with a 3.6-litre V6, and a rear-wheel-drive (RWD) version with the 5.7-litre V8 motor.
The Dodge Durango SUV is also available with the 3.6-litre V8 and the 5.7-litre hemi V8, both in AWD. The Durango is becoming more popular as a police patrol vehicle because of its roomy interior and performance on the streets. It seems unlikely that such a long SUV can keep up (and best) many other police vehicles, but especially in the 5.7-litre guise, its performance belies its size. Ideal for K-9 duties, but one should make sure their dog is well secured.
General Motors had redesigned the popular and roomy Chevrolet Tahoe Police Pursuit vehicle (PPV) in 2021 and there are few changes for 2022. It uses GM’s 5.3-litre V8 engine, in both a RWD and AWD configuration. Most notable is the new platform that was introduced in the 2021 Tahoe. The new underpinnings increase cargo space and adds a fully-independent rear suspension, much needed after years of a solid rear axle design. No more sliding sideways while going at speed over rough washboard roads!
What is “pursuit-rated”?
While there is no strict definition of the term “pursuit-rated”, agencies such as MSP and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department extensively document and test every model offered for sale in North America. They agree that a pursuit-capable police vehicle must be able to handle higher stresses than normal, plus perform better at higher speeds than their civilian counterparts. Even without any formal recognition of the term “pursuit-rated”, it will be up to individual agencies to determine if a particular vehicle is suitable for their mission.
Is there an electric in your future?
Ford entered the Mach-E into the 2022 MSP Police Vehicle Evaluation Program as a pilot project to demonstrate the viability of a fully electric police vehicle.
Pure electrics have a bit to go before they are accepted as full-fleet patrol vehicles. The intended usage of a police vehicle directly conflicts with the ideal function of current electric vehicles as urban commuters. Dreams of plugging in your car at night into the outlet in your home are dashed very quickly at the 60- to 100-hour charge times on standard household 120 volt outlets. Even fast-chargers that are quickly becoming commonplace across North America, take one to four hours to fully top up the battery.
But battery technology is improving every year. With current technology, battery packs should last the life of the vehicle. It wasn’t that long ago that any perceived savings on fuel costs were simply passed on to the second owner of the vehicle who was soon confronted by the staggering expense in replacing the entire battery pack not long after picking up their slightly used electric or hybrid.
The promise is there. Ford has given us an enticing look into the future. After all, plug-in electric vehicles are fast; there is no doubt about that. Electric motors generate maximum torque right from rest. This is why they accelerate so quickly; plus, with the latest technology in electric motors, they also generate high horsepower numbers. But that is meaningless if you run out of battery juice part way through a critical pursuit.
One could safely say that torque wins acceleration; horsepower wins races; and battery capacity that is improving every year keeps them both off the flatbed.
Full-electric patrol vehicles that can work a shift without a four-hour charge in the middle or not die at critical times may be years away, but Ford has given us a glimpse of the future and a promise of their benefits.
MICHIGAN STATE POLICE YEARLY VEHICLE TESTS
Every fall the MSP, in conjunction with the U.S. National Institute of Justice (NIJ), test the handling and performance of every new police vehicle on the market in back-to-back tests. These eagerly anticipated tests are seen as the most comprehensive analysis of police vehicles in North America.
The MSP yearly vehicle test for the 2022 model year will mark the 24th year that Blue Line has been reporting the results of the tests for police category vehicles.
The MSP Precision Driving Unit evaluates police vehicles in two categories: Police Category vehicles and Special Service vehicles. Police category vehicles are designed for the full spectrum of general police activities including high-speed pursuit. Special service vehicles are designed only for specialized duties such as canine units or adverse weather conditions.
Eleven vehicles were submitted to the NIJ in the Police category for the 2022 model year:
- 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe PPV 5.3L RWD
- 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe PPV 5.3L 4WD
- 2022 Dodge Charger Pursuit 3.6L AWD
- 2022 Dodge Charger Pursuit 5.7L RWD
- 2022 Dodge Durango Pursuit 3.6L AWD
- 2022 Dodge Durango Pursuit 5.7L AWD
- 2022 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid AWD
- 2022 Ford Police Interceptor Utility 3.0L EcoBoost AWD
- 2022 Ford Police Interceptor Utility 3.3L AWD
- 2022 Ford F-150 Police Responder 3.5L EcoBoost 4WD
- 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric AWD
MSP Precision Driving Unit and the NIJ’s Justice Technology Information Center (JTIC) test all the vehicles together over a three-day period at the Chrysler Proving Grounds and the Grattan Raceway. Each vehicle is tested without rooftop lights, spotlights, sirens or radio antennas in place. Tires are original equipment rubber provided by the manufacturer. (All dimensions and measurements are given in U.S. numbers.)
These eagerly anticipated tests are seen as the most comprehensive analysis of police vehicles in North America.
Vehicle dynamics testing
The objective of the vehicle dynamics testing is to determine the high-speed pursuit handling characteristics. Except for the absence of traffic, the two-mile road course simulates actual pursuit conditions. It evaluates the blend of suspension components and acceleration and braking ability. Four different drivers test each vehicle over an eight-lap road course, with the five fastest laps counting toward each driver’s average lap time. Final score is the combined average of all four drivers for each vehicle.
Electric-powered vehicle dynamics testing
Because of the unique nature of battery electric vehicles, it was felt that a fair assessment of their capabilities would involve fast-charging the battery pack between runs. This would be more typical of an electric vehicle hitting the road near the start of every shift. In discussions with all three manufacturers, the MSP Precision Driving Unit settled on a charge time of 40 minutes on a 47 Kw Level 3 charger between runs.
Acceleration and top speed
The objectives of the acceleration and top speed tests are to determine the ability of each vehicle to accelerate from a standing start to 60 mph, 80 mph and 100 mph, and to record the top speed achieved within a distance of 14 miles from a standing start. Acceleration score is the average of four tests. Following the fourth acceleration sequence, each vehicle continues to accelerate to its highest attainable speed within 14 miles of the standing start point.
The objective of the braking test is to determine the deceleration rate attained by each vehicle on twenty 60-0 mph full stops to the point of full ABS. Each vehicle is scored on the average deceleration rate it attains. Each vehicle makes five measured 60-0 mph stops to full ABS engagement in one direction, and then five measured 60-0 mph stops to full ABS engagement in the opposite direction. Then the test is run again. The score is the average of 20 stops. Stop distance is calculated by interpolation of results.
Communications and ergonomics
The objectives of the communications and ergonomics tests are to rate a vehicle’s ability to provide a suitable environment for patrol officers to perform their job, to accommodate required communication and emergency warning equipment and to assess the relative difficulty in installing this equipment. A minimum of four officers independently evaluate ergonomic factors, and Michigan State Police Communications Division personnel then evaluate each vehicle on the ease of equipment installation.
A total of three communications factors are evaluated on a scale of one to 10 and averaged among all the testers. The final score is the overall average of all three factors, including dashboard, trunk and engine compartment accessibility.
A total of 27 ergonomic factors are evaluated on a scale of one to 10 and averaged among all the testers. The final score is the overall average of all 27 factors, such as seat design, padding, ease of entry, head room, instrument placement, HVAC control placement, visibility and ease of entry and exit.
While not an indicator of actual mileage that may be experienced, the EPA mileage figures serve as a comparison of mileage potential from vehicle to vehicle. Vehicle figures are based on data published by the vehicle manufacturers and certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Figures are given in U.S. miles per gallon.
Dave Brown is Blue Line’s firearms and police vehicle contributor, as well as the Best Dressed Police Vehicle Awards judge. He is a tactical firearms trainer and consultant based in Winnipeg. He can be reached at Dave.Brown@northwestlaw.ca.
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