General Motors discontinued its front-wheel Impala Limited patrol car after the 2016 model year and will cease production of its rear-wheel Caprice PPV car after a short 2017-model-year production run. That would leave the company without a pursuit-rated sedan — a fact that has been pointed out to us by several readers of Government Fleet.
While it may seem surprising that GM will no longer offer a pursuit-rated sedan, the automaker's strategy acknowledges the shift toward SUVs that has shaped the overall automotive market in recent years. Because law enforcement agencies have been ordering pursuit-rated Chevrolet Tahoe PPVs and Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles in greater and greater numbers since the 2012 model year, the decision appears sound.
"When the sedan market is declining and the utility market is growing, it's difficult to make a business case that we need to be in that market," said Dana Hammer, GM's manager for law enforcement vehicles. "Sedans across the board are declining."
For pursuit-rated vehicles, law enforcement agencies want more capability, interior space, cargo and carrying capacity, and payload, said Brian Bowden, GM's government sales manager.
"Our vehicles are truck-based products, and they hold up to the rigors of law enforcement demands," Bowden said. "We've been watching the trend in the last five years. At the beginning of this decade, we were seeing a significant ramp-up of our sales of the Tahoe. We've seen it year-over-year. We really think the future is utilities."
For the 2017 model year, General Motors will offer the Silverado 1500 Special Service Vehicle, pursuit-rated Tahoe Police Vehicle (in rear- and four-wheel drive), Tahoe Special Service Vehicle, Suburban 3500HD, and Impala IFL LS with the 3.6L V-6 engine.
For the first time, police fleets can acquire a V-6 Impala for use as a detective car, command car, or undercover unit. And the vehicle can operate with the E-85 ethanol fuel blend. GM expects to see it used outside of police fleets in state motor pools and universities.
The end of the Caprice PPV may have been inevitable, after General Motors announced in December of 2013 that it was ending vehicle production in Australia in 2017. General Motors has been producing the Caprice PPV at its Holden manufacturing plant in that country since its introduction as a 2011-model-year vehicle.
The Caprice PPV has been a top performer at Michigan and California police vehicle testing, but wasn't widely used by agencies that seemed to prefer the more aggressive styling of the Dodge Charger Pursuit.
The vehicle took about six months to arrive following ordering because it was shipped across the Pacific Ocean from Down Under. Agencies often have a tight window for ordering patrol vehicles and need to strike when budgets are available.