Blue Line


November 26, 2012  By Morley Lymburner

No trivial pursuit

The real story on the Chevy Caprice

by Morley Lymburner

For the second year in a row General Motors is making every cop in Canada feel like a little boy with his nose pressed up against the window of a closed candy store. You can look but you can’t buy.

The Caprice PPV is actually a lightly modified version of GM’s long-wheelbase Zeta sedans, marketed in Australia as the Holden Commodore and in the Middle East as a Chevy Caprice. GM offered ordinary Canadian consumers a shorter Zeta, in the form of the well liked but short-lived Pontiac G8, but it unfortunately died with the vapourization of the Pontiac line.

Only members of Six Nations Police (and one other mystery police service) know the true impact this car could make to Canadian police work. (We have invited Six Nations police to supply a review of the car.)

We went to a great deal of trouble last year to find out why GM will not sell or even speak to Canadian law enforcement about the Caprice. It wasn’t that we weren’t asking… they just ain’t tellin.

With numbers out of the Michigan State Police Trials seeming to indicate a very ergonomically competitive car, the decision to freeze out Canadian cops became even more mystifying.

Once again this year I called around to see what the problem is.

Some claim the vehicle is simply not competitive. One source said the cost of bringing the Caprice in from Australia and re-tooling to left hand drive must be recouped from the biggest market – the US – before the price will drop. Apparently it simply can not match the price of the Charger, Impala and Ford.

This piece of intel falls apart at three levels.

1) Why not offer it to any Canadian agency willing to shell out the extra bucks? No one must stick to a lowest tender if the toy fits the agency’s needs.

2) The car’s higher price tag will likely also command a higher trade-in or resale value.

3) One agency reports it’s switching its entire fleet over to SUVs, which means the reasons for changing the RFP have been met and obviously price is not a factor – unless the Caprice costs more than a Ford Explorer or Chevy Tahoe. Highly unlikely.

After a year of digging, my theory is that the reason is simple. The Caprice is made in Australia and the Impala in Canada. The answer comes down to industrial and political intrigue that sidelines Canadian police. No Caprice here unless it’s made here. Too bad… but hey, maybe its okay for Canadian policing to do its part for our economy.

To confirm my suspicions, I e-mailed the top ranks of the Canadian Auto Workers union: I am looking for information about why GM does not permit the Australian made Caprice into Canada for sale to Canadian police.

We have been making a lot of inquiries and no clear answer as yet.

After about a year of research we have come to the conclusion that the Caprice is being kept out of Canada because the Impala is still made in this country and this is the preferred car to sell to Canadian cops (even if they don’t buy it.)

I would like someone to give us some feedback from the CAW perspective. No response will indicate to us these facts are correct.

I received this answer the very next business day:

Mr. Lymburner

The CAW Procurement Policy is that we demand governments buy vehicles built in this country. It is a simple policy as it is Canada’s economy that depends on these manufacturing jobs and in turn taxpayers money that is used to purchase these vehicles.

Too many times the federal government uses taxpayers money to purchase foreignmade vehicles. It does not make sense. We have lost too many manufacturing jobs to other countries through unfair trade laws. We want fair trade, not free trade.

Do you see other countries buying our vehicles supported by their government? I think not.

The Impala is a great vehicle and there are other vehicles built in this country that would serve our police services well as they have for many years.

Keith Osborne
National Representative
Canadian Auto Workers.

Finally an honest answer. The long and short of it is Canada will not have Chevy Caprices until the Australian branch of GM licenses the vehicle for manufacture in Canada or the United States.

Now let’s take another look at those Impalas. GM and the Canadian Auto Workers say they want you to buy these cars to save jobs… We got a quote back from GM Fleet sales for Canada… “we are limited with product.” Bottom line here is that Chrysler and Ford are all that’s left that will be interested in your business.

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