The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is among the first in the country to get brand newbuilt specifically as police cars. "CBS This Morning" got a look inside the new vehicles.
The Ford Fusion-based Police Responder Sedan is the first true hybrid built for police purposes. "This is not gonna be the standard car that mom and dad would pick up for a grocery-getter," said detective and NYPD driving instructor Paul Cacioppo. "It's been modified."
Although it sounds and drives like a typical police vehicle, Ford estimates the cars will save more than 1,500 gallons of fuel per car per year. The NYPD aims to have all 10,000 of its vehicles become electric or hybrid within five years, to reduce emissions and cut fuel costs. Right now, the department spends about $15 million a year on gas.
The NYPD started testing retrofitted civilian hybrids in 2009, which improved fuel economy by two thirds over a gas-powered cruiser.
Deputy NYPD commissioner Robert Martinez said hybrid police cars weren't even on Ford's radar at the time. "That was something that [was] kinda me thinking outside the box," he said. He added that it took about two to three years before Ford took the request seriously.
"All of our best learnings come from our customers, right?" said Stephen Tyler, the marketing manager for Ford's police business. Tyler said that the new hybrid Police Interceptor SUV is faster and more fuel efficient than the gas-powered model it's replacing.
"All the tailpipe emissions are reduced because the engine is shutting off for extended periods of time. It's going to give you fewer oil changes. It's going to give you fewer brake changes because of regenerative braking on the vehicle," Tyler said, adding "you're going to have fewer trips to the pump with your officers."
The bulk of its fuel savings come during the five hours Ford estimates a police car spends idling during a typical eight-hour shift. The electric motor on the hybrid allows the gas engine to turn off, saving more than 900 gallons a year per cruiser.
The vehicles cost $3,500 more than the gas-powered version. But Martinez believes the upgrade is worth it. "You spend more up front," he said, "but just with fuel savings alone, you'll absolve that additional payout."
A new feature on the hybrids is a perimeter alert, which warn alert the officers if someone comes up from behind them, and automatically roll up the windows and lock the doors.
Officer Marcos Rudon was one of the first NYPD officers to drive the new SUVs. At first, he said, he and other officers were skeptical – but the car soon won him over. "When [cops] hear hybrid, they think a Prius. But this is not the case with this car," Rudon said. "I was skeptical at first too, until I actually got my hands on it. And I was blown away."
The NYPD will get its first hybrid SUV's this fall, and plans to buy hundreds of the Responder Hybrid Sedan.