Volvo has been selling police cars in Europe since 1929. Now, it’s entering the U.S. market with both battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), at a time when police agencies are testing out EVs for pursuit use.
It began with New York City’s interest in the XC40 BEV — at the same time, the United Nations wanted to buy armored XC90s. This sparked a reignition of Volvo’s ambitions to bring police vehicles to the U.S. and to also introduce the armored line-up from Volvo.
“We figured if the largest municipal fleet in the world would do that, others might as well,” said Erik Asplund, head of commercial fleet & rental.
Volvo launched its police program in May, and the company now offers several 2023 model-year vehicles for police agencies. Any vehicle can be upfit with a special service package, and most are available with a police package, including the S60 Recharge plug-in hybrid sedan, XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid SUV, XC90 Recharge plug-in hybrid SUV, and XC40 Recharge battery-electric SUV.
The XC40, along with an armored XC90, were displayed at the Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX) in Detroit May 23-26.
A Special Police Package
What makes the police package different from the retail models? It includes a special chassis, suspension, and brakes, and it’s tested with about 1,200 lbs. of weight to cover all the police vehicle extras.
“This makes the handling and driving dynamics of the cars exceptional since they generally also are driven in a much tougher way than cars for private use,” Asplund said. “This ultimately also is a safety factor.”
The special service package has the retail-model chassis, suspension, and brakes, but it’s upfitted for police work.
The all-wheel-drive dual motor XC40 Recharge has an EPA estimated range of 223 miles and delivers 402 hp. The front-wheel-drive version hasn’t been tested for fuel economy by the EPA, but a conversion from European tests show it will deliver 260 miles of range.
As for the plug-in offerings, the S60 offers up to 41 miles on electricity and a combined EPA fuel economy of 74 MPGe. The EPA estimated combined highway/city fuel economy is 31 mpg when running on gasoline only. The XC60 offers up to 36 miles on electricity alone (63 MPGe combined) and a EPA estimated combined fuel economy of 28 mpg when running on gasoline only. Lastly, the XC90 offers up to 36 miles on electricity (66 MPGe combined) and a combined fuel economy of 26 mpg when running on gasoline only.
The company is planning to have the full lineup of battery-electric and plug-in electric police vehicles tested by the Michigan State Police at its annual police tests in 2023.
The vehicles are available to order now.
European vs. U.S. Police Cars
Unlike the U.S. model, where police agencies order vehicles and can get them upfitted by private companies or do it in-house themselves, Volvo offers (mostly) a one-stop shop.
“The way we've worked in Europe in the past, and we’ll do in the U.S. as well, is you tell us what you need, and we'll provide it for you. And then you get one bill for everything,” Asplund said.
That includes lights, sirens, radar system, cameras, partitions, decals, gun safes, etc. What it usually doesn’t provide is the computer and radio system since most police departments prefer to do this themselves for security reasons.
“Everything that’s upfitted on a traditional U.S. police vehicle, we can fit on ours,” Asplund assured.
Because the vehicles are being built and upfitted in Europe, he estimated delivery time can take about six to nine months, but that’s nearly fully upfitted. Delivery delays are mostly due to vehicle and upfitter parts availability.
The S60 is built in South Carolina, so it should have a shorter lead time.
Asplund added that Volvo’s goal is to stock the police versions of these vehicles in the U.S. so the order-to-delivery time can be as quick as three weeks.
Not Replacing Your Standard Police Car
Asplund said Volvo’s not looking to replace your standard police vehicle.
“We're not here to conquer the market. We're not here to replace the Detroit three. We're here to be a complement to that, especially when it comes to electric vehicles” he said.
In addition to patrol, Volvo police vehicles can be used for undercover work and traffic monitoring, because they’re not viewed as traditional police cars.
“Today, if you see a Tahoe, Charger, or a Ford Explorer in black, that might not have the regular wheels, and the Explorer doesn't have the roof rails, you know that's a cop,” Asplund explained.
One more distinction: safety. Volvo has long emphasized safety, and its police vehicles are no exception.
“Our focus on the police car is that it's not only a vehicle, but also a tool for police officers,” said Anne-Cathrine Thore Olsson, head of special vehicles. “Other police cars, of course, they're safe as well. But this is really something where we are leading. There's a key value in that, for the police officers to have a truly safe vehicle to ride in.”