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Holden and Ford not in the mix as NSW Police confirm new highway patrol roles for Chrysler and BMW.
The long running saga of what cars would replace the locally built Holden Commodore and Ford Falcons that patrolled NSW roads for decades has been partially resolved, with the NSW Police Force announcing that it will deploy diesel BMW 5 Series sedans, along with Chrysler’s V8-powered 300 SRT Core, from July this year.
“The safety of our police officers and the community they serve is our top priority, and both these vehicles demonstrated the safety levels meeting our requirements,” said NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy.
“Equally as important, the platform of both vehicles supports the state of the art technology that is key to the government’s focus on reducing the incidents of road trauma across New South Wales.”
The 300C has been the subject of much speculation dating back more than 12 months, with importer Fiat Chrysler Australia (FCA) bidding for the tender on the strength of the large sedan’s V8 engine, big brake package and the company’s ability to spec the 300C to police requirements from the factory.
“We have worked closely with the New South Wales Police to understand their needs and are proud to deliver a vehicle that offers the power and performance to meet the demands of the Highway Patrol Team,” said FCA Australia boss Steve Zanlunghi.
“Globally, FCA has extensive experience in building law enforcement vehicles for a number of countries and we’re delighted to continue this with local authorities here in Australia.”
While this is the first time in decades that a Chrysler-branded vehicle has been used in the police force in Australia, FCA has experience in building law enforcement vehicles globally, with Alfa Romeo and Dodge having been used in Italian and North American fleets respectively.
“After rigorous testing and extensive consultation we’re thrilled to offer a vehicle that combines the perfect blend of performance, handling and state of the art technology for the New South Wales Police in their endeavour to support the community,” said Mr Zanlunghi.
It’s not known how many cars have been leased. An FCA spokesperson confirmed it has to be “substantial and healthy business case” to supply factory-spec police cars, but declined to reveal the number.
The Core boasts a 6.4-litre naturally aspirated V8 that produces 350kW and 637Nm that’s backed by an eight-speed auto, and the car passed the Force’s stringent assessment program with high marks.
The decision to opt for the BMW, meanwhile, has come as somewhat of a surprise, although BMW Australia recently secured a deal with Victorian police services to supply 5 Series sedans for general duty work.
GD cars, as they are known, aren’t required to pass the same assessment regime that’s applied to highway cars. These include exercises that replicate urban pursuits, with repeated hard stops from high speeds.
Like the 300C, the 5 Series patrol car comes via a law enforcement spec program from head office, which enables BMW to offer a factory-built police car.
“Globally, the BMW Group supplies emergency and authority vehicles to a large number of countries, so I am very pleased to see our brand continue this proud tradition in Australia,” said BMW Group Australia’s CEO Marc Werner in a statement.
“We are honoured by our association with the New South Wales Police Force and delighted that our officers will be driving BMW’s safe, efficient and dynamically superior vehicles.”
Police say, too, that the price of the BMW across its service life is competitive compared to its rivals.
The NSW spec 5 Series is based on a 530d with BMW’s M Sport Package and M Sport brakes system, along with multi-adjustable Comfort-spec seats. The leather trim remains in place, despite NSW Police requesting a downgrade to cloth.
Items like the sunroof are deleted to enable the 530d to be fitted with equipment such as lighting and sirens, while electrical upgrades have also been added.
The civilian version of the 530d starts at $119,000, and produces 195kW and 620Nm.
Other cars under consideration over the last three years included the Subaru WRX, while regional NSW commands have taken delivery of turbocharged Volvo XC60s to fill the highway patrol role once dominated by domestically produced machines.
Up to 17 different vehicles – including the Ford Mustang – were tested in the review process.