Tony O'Kane | Jul 29, 2010

Following the release of Images and details of the Holden-developed Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle and 'Detective' variant earlier this month, GM has released footage of the WM Statesman-based saloon roaming the streets.

GM has also confirmed that the Detective variant will be shopped to enforcement agencies from October this year, and available for duty from April 2011. Orders for the full-liveried Caprice PPV begin in October, which, if successful, will see patrolling set to begin in June 2011. It remains unclear if any departments have placed orders.

The '9C1' PPV was originally revealed at Holden's Port Melbourne headquarters late last year before getting its first US unveiling at the LA Auto Show in December.

The previously unseen 9C3 Detective variant has been developed specifically for use by plain-clothed police and federal agencies (meaning we might see the 9C3 in an episode of CSI in the future).

While its mechanical configuration is largely the same as the 9C1 patrol vehicle, the Detective regains its centre cupholders and more comfort-oriented front and rear seating.

Both cars are powered by GM's 6.0 litre V8, producing 265kW and 384Nm and utilising Active Fuel Management and the petrol- and E85 Ethanol-friendly FlexFuel system.

While its on-paper specs would seem to put it well in the race to replace the ageing Ford Crown Victoria in US law-enforcement fleets, the Caprice is just one contender in a competitive field.

As yet, there is no ink on any supply contracts and no export deal in place. But while a decision is still some way off, Holden would clearly seem to be in with a shot.

“The new Chevrolet Caprice police car is the right tool at the right time for law enforcement,” Jim Campbell, General Manager for GM Fleet and Commercial Operations said.

“We asked for a lot of feedback from our police customers, which helped us develop a vehicle that is superior to the Crown Victoria in key areas.”

Holden says the Los Angeles Police Department has had its eye on the WM-platformed Caprice for some time. If the car is selected as the force's next-generation patrol vehicle, its order alone could total some 20,000 cars.

But the LAPD likely won't nominate its choice of patrol car (the Caprice is up against the Chevy Impala, Ford Taurus and Dodge Charger) for a while, and a final decision isn't expected until later this year.

Whether the LAPD's order-slip asks for a thousand cars or ten thousand cars, Holden isn't relying on Caprice exports to keep itself afloat.

"At this stage we don't know how many cars the police will order," Holden's Executive Director of Sales and Marketing, John Elsworth said.

"However, we're certainly not reliant on volume. Export volume is not something we need to make Holden viable."

The Aussie-built Caprice is however tipped as the frontrunner on the LAPD's shortlist.

Its more generous interior space, bigger rear door opening and powerful RWD platform give it a definite edge over the FWD Taurus and the cramped Dodge Charger.

The shorter-wheelbase VE is also being proposed as a police vehicle in the USA, but most potential customers have indicated that the larger WM Caprice is more to their liking.

"They've asked for the bigger car," Elsworth said.

If selected by the LAPD, Holden is confident other police departments will follow suit.

The potential export market for the Caprice numbers some 70,000 cars in the USA alone, and law enforcement agencies in Canada and the UK have also signaled their interest in a VE/WM platform patrol vehicle.

The Caprice PPV isn't just solely targeted towards police buyers. Elsworth says GM is pitching the vehicle at all emergency services, including some Federal departments.

The current Ford Crown Victoria does double-duty in police and taxi fleets across the country, but GM has yet to push the Caprice towards taxi operators.

Holden says there's definitely no plan to sell the Caprice to private US buyers, but with used Crown Vics popular as second-hand cars, ex-police Caprices will likely find their way into private hands within the first half of next decade.

If the LAPD gives the Caprice the nod, Holden won't be the only Australian company to benefit from the export deal.

Melbourne company National Safety Agency has been shopping its suite of integrated on-board vehicle systems to US police departments, and has collaborated with Holden to put its VE-based prototype together.

Featuring an upgraded power supply, the NSA-developed car boasts a comprehensive array of electronics designed to aid in law enforcement.

Radios, computers, infra-red nightvision cameras, fingerprint readers and wireless connectivity are all tied into a console-mounted touchscreen display.

NSA's car also features a sturdy partition behind the front seats, which also incorporates weapons stowage between the driver and front passenger.

The partition doesn't compromise crash safety either, as the VE's curtain airbag system has been modified to work around the bulkhead.

Neither the LAPD nor any other US law enforcement agency has voiced a commitment to buying the Chevy Caprice PPV just yet, but Holden is optimistic that demand for the car will be strong.

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