According to the New York Post, the New York Police Department will soon begin a pilot program that would replace 40 of the city's police cruisers with Nissan Altima Hybrids. The initial investment in the gas-saving and pollution-reducing scheme is a hefty $1.1 million. As it stands, 18 units have been set up as fully marked patrol cars and 20 as unmarked cars. Two more are playing spy games disguised as yellow taxicabs.

If these cars work out well as police units, plenty of fuel will be saved. The current fleet, which consists mainly of large, rear-wheel drive, full frame Crown Vics and slightly smaller Impalas, averages between 16 and 18 mpg in the city. The Altimas are expected to get 35 mpg.

Given the shaky state of the U.S. domestic car industry, we wonder what kind of backlash there might be for using the Japanese cars, though they are assembled in Smyrna, TN. We know that police officers have proven an attachment to the old-tech cruisers that they currently use, and we'd be a little surprised if Ford isn't at least considering outfitting its new Fusion Hybrid for crime fighting. Thanks for the tip, Mike!

[Source: New York Post | Photo: Chris McSweeney]

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