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Ford Unveils A Hybrid That Can Be Used In High-Speed Police Chases


The Los Angeles and New York City police departments are going green, at least their patrol cars will be. Yesterday, both cities announced plans to introduce hybrid patrol cars. For obvious reasons, police officers want their cars to be solid and fast. Until now, that has not meant hybrids. Here's NPR's Sonari Glinton.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: The LAPD and the NYPD are putting the Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan - phew (ph) - in their fleets. It's the first time that law enforcement has used a hybrid patrol car for high-speed pursuits.

PAUL CLINTON: Police departments have always been somewhat allergic to using hybrid vehicles or electric vehicles.

GLINTON: Paul Clinton is with Government Fleet magazine. He says until recently, hybrid cars just didn't have the speed and stability that officers want and need.

CLINTON: Yeah, there is a tension within the police fleets for a desire for performance and also what I would call an electoral or elected leader mandates from above that demand higher fuel efficiency.

GLINTON: Clinton says if you buy fleets of cars, every mile per gallon counts. But if you're driving a squad car, officers want a solid, fast and maneuverable car at high speeds. Kevin Layden is in charge of hybrids and plug-in vehicles at Ford. He says he knows the perceptions that people have about hybrids, but he says the technology has come a long, long way.

KEVIN LAYDEN: You've got to pass tests with the LA County Sheriff as well as the Michigan State Police. You've got to have zero to 100 times, you've got to have consistency around the track. And so there's more than a little bit of engineering that needs to be really, really good here.

MARK CRONIN: My name is Mark Cronin. I'm a Los Angeles police officer, and I'm an elected director at the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

GLINTON: Cronin says he knows the departments are looking to cut costs. Ford estimates the new vehicles will save nearly $4,000 a year in fuel. Cronin says there could be an upside for officers.

CRONIN: I'm a proponent of having something that doesn't require, you know, stopping for fuel as much or at all. And I do think that as long as the safety requirements, to me, are met, I do know that there's some, you know, some benefits, especially not just economically but, you know, just going green. There's benefits to our planet, too.

GLINTON: There is a strategy to Ford releasing a hybrid patrol car - it paves the way for all kinds of hybrids, like a hybrid Mustang or a hybrid Ford F-150. You get the idea. Sonari Glinton, NPR News.


WAYLON JENNINGS: (Singing) Just a good old boy, never meaning no harm. Beats all you never saw been in trouble with the law since the day they was born. Straightening the curves, flattening the hills. Someday the mountain might get them but the law never will. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sonari Glinton is a NPR Business Desk Correspondent based at our NPR West bureau. He covers the auto industry, consumer goods, and consumer behavior, as well as marketing and advertising for NPR and Planet Money.