With the exit of Australian car manufacturers coming ever closer, the nation’s police forces will be forced to look elsewhere for their vehicles.
Falcons or Commodores have long been used as police cars, so what will police drive once those models are no longer produced?
Almost 2,000 of Victoria Police’s roughly 2,700 vehicles are Commodores or Falcons. In New South Wales, roughly a third of the police fleet is one of the two iconic Aussie models.
Numbers vary in other states, but the two soon to be ex-flagship models still dominate.
Historically, Australian police and emergency services fleets have predominantly been made up of big rear-wheel drive cars with six or eight cylinders. These cars are rapidly disappearing from the world’s roads, especially in right-hand drive. Those remaining tend to be luxury models, which kind of rules them out of the kind of mass -purchase required to equip police, government and allied fleets.
So, where to for our boys and girls in blue? What type of vehicles will they drive post-2017?
Both the NSW and Victorian police forces have annual budgets of around $60 million and tend to lease their vehicles. The preference (and rules) haves been for Australian-made cars, which but this will soon no longer be possible.
The other requirement is the adaptability of the vehicle, to allow it to be fitted with lights, sirens and other police equipment. It must also meet stringent performance, handling, stability and brake tests.
As is the case with most government-funded vehicle pools, both the NSW and Victoria Police fleets are predominantly leased — each with an annual budget of around $60 million.
Vehicles are rated one of four levels: Gold, Silver, Bronze or White. Sedans and wagons must reach at least a Silver rating for use by Victoria Police.
With all this in mind, the various state governments have some big decisions to make in the near future.
Ford and Holden both plan to continue selling a full range of passenger vehicles after their manufacturing exits, but they will face competition they have not experienced before.
The investment made in a vehicle fleet is usually behind only staff and buildings, which makes a wise choice crucial.
Of American models, only the Chrysler 300C comes in right-hand drive. Japanese makes are a definite possibility, which could see the introduction of the Nissan Cefiro and Skyline sedans or Toyota’s Chaser and Aristo.
Hyundai’s Genesis and Equus, and Kia’s K900 are other contenders.
All the main German brands build police-specific models, which raises the possibility of police cruising around in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class or BMW 5 Series. They are more expensive up-front, but the German makers argue that the operational efficiencies over the life of their cars make them cost-effective options.
These decisions will have to be made soon, and it will be fascinating to see which way governments jump.