Ford and Dodge ready to fight over police departments

As automakers are moving away from fleet sales, there is one segment they just can't seem to say no to. The relatively high-margin law enforcement vehicle field has been pretty much dominated through the years by large rear-drive domestic sedans. Up until recently, that had meant a Ford Crown Victoria. There weren't many other options, that is until Dodge decided its new Charger/ Magnum would look great in black and white. Each of the (formerly known as) Big Three, in fact, is pushing an entry in this field now.

As BusinessWeek points out, law enforcement agencies are purchasing between 65,000 to 70,000 vehicles every year as part of multiyear contracts. And these aren't base-model strippers we're talking about. Dodge's police Charger has an MSRP of $26,825, about five grand more than a base 2.7-liter civilian Charger. Sure it comes with the 3.5-liter V6 and tops out at 150 mph, but that extra five thou represents a considerable profit margin. Right now Ford's Crown Victoria is the undisputed king of the cop car fleet, and pretty much the only reason Ford still makes it. Out of the 63,939 Crown Vics Ford moved in 2005, 50,000 were police versions, according to John Arnone, a manager of Ford's Canadian manufacturing operations.

Dodge began selling police versions of the Charger and Magnum last year, and they are starting to make a dent in Ford sales, but still trail even GM's front-wheel drive Impala and Tahoe in this segment. The newer platforms give a performance advantage over GM and Ford, but the Vic has momentum, loyalty and room on its side.

To see a lineup of what Business Week thinks are the coolest cop cars, click through the read link.

[Source: BusinessWeek]

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