Hybrid power has found its way into passenger hatchbacks, four-wheel drives and sedans, but the technology hasn't been deemed fit for life in law enforcement. At least, it hadn't up until now. Criminals, meet the Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan, capable of running in stealthy battery-only mode up to 60 mph.
Life on the police force isn't exactly easy. Cop cars are driven around the clock, and they're not driven gently. They need to stand up to curb strikes, high-speed PIT maneuvers and the crumbs from every type of donut under the sun, and they need to do it without creating expensive repair bills for the department chief to complain about. Ford had to make sure its hybrid system could stand meet these lofty standards before it could be deemed "pursuit rated."
According to Ford, making the switch to hybrid power will lead to big fuel savings, without any negative impact on the Fusion's ability to function as an all-action, police-chase hero. The company is expecting the Responder Hybrid to return around 38 mpg (6.1 l/100km) in EPA testing, compared to around 18 mpg (13 l/100km) from a conventional V6 Police Interceptor.
The fuel savings extend beyond EPA testing, too. Squad cars spend a lot of time idling, because the engine is required to power the raft of electrical gadgets used by police. The Police Responder Hybrid can use its lithium-ion battery to deal with this load, saving about 0.27 gallons (1 liter) of fuel every hour. Doesn't sound like much, but Ford says that equates to around $3,900 in annual fuel savings compared to a V6 Interceptor under normal usage.
Although it's more efficient than a traditional petrol-powered police car, the hybrid Fusion has been tweaked for life on the force. Ford hasn't released range numbers, but it will tell us the car will run in electric mode up to 60 mph (97 km/h) before the Atkinson-cycle engine cuts in. When it comes time to give chase, the system will draw on the battery and petrol engine for maximum performance.
The Hybrid Responder will be on sale immediately, with deliveries set to start in June this year. If you can't wait that long, or don't fancy an in-person tour of John Q Law's new whip, check the car out in the video below.