Carbon Motors - and it would appear many law enforcement agencies across the United States - hopes the E7 concept vehicle will be the cop car of the future.
The company expects to begin commercial sales of these vehicles, targeted specifically to law enforcement agencies of all sizes, by the end of 2012. Known as a homeland security company, Carbon Motors plans to design, develop, manufacture, distribute, service, and recycle the world's first purpose-built police car. The company markets the new E7 unit as a custom-made police vehicle.
The E7, expected to be built in Indiana, is diesel-powered. The vehicle offers 40-percent improved fuel economy over a standard police vehicle, the company claims. The E7 also accelerates from 0-60 in six seconds with a lifespan of nearly three times that of standard patrol vehicles.
Door and dashboard armor deflects small arms fire up to 9mm. Police can trace shooters through infrared cameras that cuts through the "cloak" of night.
The E7 is engineered to last 250,000 miles for extreme durability with a top end speed of 155 mph.
Vehicle Servicing Potential Issue
One issue with the E7 is servicing, given that current service providers are likely to require training for proper maintenance. Carbon Motors is holding an array of service summits across the country to help determine how best to handle potential preventive maintenance, electrical and body repairs, and other service issues.
Several options are being considered, according to Stacy Dean Stephens, Carbon Motors co-founder, given that more than 60 percent of law enforcement agencies perform at least a portion of vehicle servicing in-house.
The first option provides individual agencies training, and their servicing efforts will be complemented with outsourced maintenance technicians.
A second option places Carbon Motor-owned service centers in strategic locations throughout the country. These centers, which could also be owned by other organizations, would required a 10,000 square-foot building, staffed with as many as six technicians.
A third option is a strategic partnership with one or more retail vehicle service center chains across North America. The decision regarding how best to handle E7 servicing won't be made for a few years, but Carbon Motors is determined to research the issue in advance with the help of potential customers.
"We have found at these summits that when some of the fleet managers or personnel first come in, they are very skeptical about our plans and even if the vehicles will be made," Stephens said. "But by the time they leave, they feel more a part of the idea because we're seeking their input into how we can best service the cars."
Pricing Yet to be Announced
E7 pricing hasn't been announced, although the company allows law enforcement agencies to reserve concept models online. The models will be available approximately four to six months before the vehicles are sold commercially, Stephens said. Allowing pre-ordering also helps the company determine the types and sizes of interested departments.
So far, interest has come from a wide cross section of customers.
"We have been surprised that we have been contacted by agencies in all 50 states and by federal and local agencies," Stephens said. "The feedback we continue to get is a mix of, 'it's about time, how much will this cost, and where will you get service?' "
The price likely will be higher than the average cost of a retrofitted car for police agencies, Stephens said, but he expects the costs to be competitive. In fact, he hopes customers will see the value of long-term cost savings related to better fuel mileage and other structural improvements.
E7 Sales to be Targeted
While the vehicles themselves may not be truly custom-made individually, one feature that will set them apart from existing police vehicles is Carbon Motors will not sell the vehicles to a wide retail market. Police vehicles currently developed by other OEMs comprise a small segment of their collective sales.
"We'll be able to give police officers excellent customer service, the level at which they have never experienced before because that is the only market we are going to sell to," Stephens said. "Everything we are doing is built around a single platform and a single purpose."
In fact, more than 50 options will be available to E7 vehicle buyers. Many options will depend on E7 use, i.e., K-9 unit, traffic patrol, or unmarked squad car, Stephens said.
Focus on Police-Specific Features
E7 differences Stephens and his partners feel will better service police departments include:
Patrol Readiness.The Carbon E7 is ready to patrol upon delivery - including graphics, badging, and striping - no additional costs or downtime for after-market product procurement and installation. Carbon Motors will also partner with major equipment suppliers for lights, sirens, prisoner transport seats, and other equipment, providing economies of scale not available in today's upfitting environment.
Officer Protection. The E7 is designed with officer safety and performance in mind, from the 75 mph rear impact crash capability to the integrated emergency equipment and optional ballistic protection panels.
Innovative Production Process. The vehicles built with pull-based manufacturing, taking advantage of an integrated supply chain that can produce vehicles to a direct order from the customer. These purpose-built vehicles can be offered at a price comparable to current upfitted passenger cars with more inherent quality, Stephens said.
Lower Cost of Ownership. The E7's total cost of ownership - purchase price, equipment options, fuel, maintenance, and lifespan - leaves other models in the dust, according to the manufacturer. With a durability specification target of 250,000 miles built to withstand the rigors of law enforcement and the fuel efficiency of a clean-burning diesel engine, operating costs are expected to be lower than other similar vehicles.
The E7 is targeted as a competitive, patrol-ready car that will not only save long-term costs such as fuel and maintenance, but experience reduced soft costs such as repair, uptime and officer security.
Stephens and his partners are positive the E7 will be a viable option for law enforcement agencies in the near future.
"We're going to meet the needs of our customers and law enforcement departments everywhere," Stephens said.
The fuel capacity of the E7 is 18 gallons and the expected combined highway and city fuel economy is 28-30 mpg. It offers rear-wheel drive and 250 horsepower.
E7 Specifications Include:
- Meets or exceeds all regulatory requirements.
- Designed to 250,000 mile durability specification.
- Turn-key built-to-direct-order.
- 24/7/365 call center support.
- Turn-key, end-of-vehicle-life process.
- Comprehensive warranty.
- Aluminum spaceframe body structure.
- 75 mph rear-impact crash capability.
- Cockpit with fully-integrated, factory-fitted law enforcement equipment.
- Integrated emergency lights, spotlights, take-down lights, and directional stick.
- Segment-exclusive coach rear doors for safer suspect ingress and egress.
- Vehicle dynamic control.
- Anti-lock brakes.
- Optimized approach/departure angles and ground clearance.
- NIJ Level III-A (or better) ballistic protection (front doors and dash panel).
- Purpose-designed seat for use with on-body equipment.
- Heated and ventilated seats.
- Heads up display.
- Reverse backup camera.
- Remote start capability.
- Driver-specific intelligent key.
- 360-degree exterior surveillance capability.
- Automatic license plate recognition system.
- Video and audio surveillance of rear passenger compartment.
- 130hz - 350hz bass siren.
- Nightvision-compliant interior illumination.
- Integrated forward-looking infrared system (FLIR).
- Integrated shotgun mounts.
- Optimized storage capability (compartment and cargo).
- Integrated front and rear passenger compartment partition.
- Hoseable rear passenger compartment.
- Integrated push bumpers and PIT capability.