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Holden cop car closes deals

Holden will build the Caprice PPV in Australia, with department-specific equipment requested by each police force fitted in the US.

The Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle was put up against Ford's ageing Crown Victoria and the new Dodge Charger in a series of on-road tests earlier this year and oupointed its US-built rivals in every aspect from acceleration to braking and outright lap times.

That's given the Commodore-based long-wheelbase car the early lead in the sales battle for a market that takes around 70,000 vehicles a year.  Holden will build the Caprice PPV in Australia, with department-specific equipment requested by each police force fitted in the US.

Holden spokesman Jonathan Rose says the company has had an encouraging reaction to it's purpose-designed police vehicle, but is still looking to translate that into firm export orders.

"We have received initial orders for the Caprice PPV which is very exciting, but we're not in a position to provide full details just yet. The orders we have received so far are from the smaller law enforcement agencies in the US," he says.

"We don't expect to receive the larger fleet orders from departments such as Los Angeles and Michigan until the first quarter of next year.  We have already started building pilot vehicles for testing and fleet marketing activities in North America and we will begin building cars for customer orders early in the new year."

The Caprice PPV is powered by V8 and V6 engines, though the V8s _ rated at 265kW and 521Nm _ were the ones tested in the Michigan Police Vehicle Evaluation trials and it was the ethanol-boosted E85 version that performed best.

It is competing with the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor _ which had been the backbone of the various police department's vehicles - and the Charger Pursuit.  The Crown Victoria is being replaced next year by the Taurus Police Interceptor sedan, which will have a two V6 engines - a 196kW/338Nm 3.5-litre V6 engine and an all-wheel drive model using a 3.5-litre EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 with 272kW/475Nm.

Holden and it's parent company GM have invested considerable time and money to customise the Caprice PPV - and an unmarked police equivalent - for the US law-enforcement market.

The front seats have been specially designed to sculpt around police equipment belts, inculding the gun, Taser and handcuffs. Trial units were fitted to vehicles for police to evaluate and the resulting shape, foam densities and hard-wearing fabric covers is a result of feedback from police on patrol.

The electronics - from stability control to ABS - have also been adapted for police use and the side curtain airbags don't prevent a full-width rear security screen from being fitted.

Chevrolet Caprice PPV
Price: $30,995
Engine: 6-0-litre V8
Power: 265kW at 5300 revs
Torque: 521Nm at 4300 revs
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Seats: Five
Suspensions: MacPherson strut front, independent spring-over-shocks rear
Brakes: 345x30mm ventilated fronts; 342x22mm solid rears.