As the automobile manufacturers downsize their models, law enforcement could lose the preferred "feedstock" for police patrol cars, the large, rear-drive, V8 sedan. For instance, GM has cancelled an advanced DOHC V8 engine and put new rear-wheel-drive models on hold. And how long will Ford build the aging Crown Victoria, by far the most popular police vehicle? Incidentally, law enforcement makes up less than one half of one percent of the US automotive market.
To fill the void, Atlanta-based Carbon Motors Corporation is poised to market the E7, the first "purpose-built" law enforcement patrol vehicle. The E7 will be powered by a 300 horsepower, clean-diesel engine that can run on bio-diesel fuel mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels. With 420 pound-feet of torque, the E7 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. It will have at least a 30 to 40 percent improvement in fuel economy, mainly because of the diesel engine. The E7 is being designed to last for at least 250,000 miles.
Lotus Engineering, noted for its world-class, high-performance cars and supplier of the electric Tesla Roadster's chassis, had a hand in designing the E7. An aluminum space frame includes 75 mph rear impact crash capability. The front doors and dash panel will feature optional ballistic protection. Crash avoidance includes stability control and anti-lock brakes. The integrated push bumpers with pursuit intervention technology will make the safe conclusion of a pursuit with a fleeing vehicle possible.
The E7 has integrated shotgun mounts. Its ergonomically-designed cockpit looks much like those found in a fighter or helicopter. It features 17-inch touch-screen computer display and a heads up display. There is a reverse backup camera, 360-degree exterior surveillance capability, forward looking infrared system (FLIR) and an automatic license plate recognition system. Officer comfort includes a purpose-designed seat for use with on-body equipment; the seats are heated and ventilated. The rear-hinged doors makes it easier to load and unload suspects into a rear passenger compartment that can be hosed out for cleaning. The officer can continually monitor rear seat occupants via video and audio surveillance equipment.
Being designed from scratch for police duty means specialized law enforcement equipment can be seamlessly integrated into the vehicle. Today, equipment is installed in patrol cars after assembly. Retrofitting often compromises the functionality of standard equipment, often doesn't meet federal safety standards and can void manufacturer warrantees. Carbon Motors will integrate the equipment during assembly, including emergency lights, spot lights, take down lights, and directional stick.
The company's Carbon Council, an informal advisory board has ensured that the E7 is "designed by law enforcement for law enforcement." The Carbon Council is comprised of active and retired law enforcement professionals and government personnel. The Carbon Council has over 1,300 members representing all 50 states. Also there is a formal advisory board that includes Tom Ridge, the first secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Dr. Lee Patrick, who served as President Clinton's drug czar, and Lee Hamilton, a former U.S. Representative and vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission.
Each E7 vehicle will be built to a customer's specification once an order has been placed. Some agencies have already order cars. Based on this initial response from the market, Carbon Motors is projecting that its first full-year of production will be sold out.