Those blue lights pulling you over may soon be attached to new police cars built on the South side of Chicago.
Ford announced Wednesday that it will build a utility version of its police Interceptor model at the Chicago Assembly Plant on Torrance Avenue. The utility vehicle will join the sedan version announced last April that will be built from the new, hugely successful Taurus model.
In July, Ford announced that the new Explorer SUV would join the Taurus and the Lincoln MKs on the Hegewisch assembly line. The Utility Pursuit Vehicle will be based on the Explorer.
"It's a perfect fit for us," said Ken Czubay, Ford’s Vice President of Marketing for the Fleet Division.
Ford counts on its fleet division for 30 percent of all vehicle sales. Police departments are its number one market, but competition for that business is heating up.
Dodge is readying a new police version of its Charger and Chevrolet is offering a new version of its police package. Challenging them all is startup Carbon Motors, which is working on a new vehicle, designed from the ground up, to be used as a police car.
Experts say Ford will have to raise the bar to attract the attention of police chiefs and purchasing managers. The company is touting the safety features of its new pair of Interceptors. The company says both can survive rear-end crashes at speeds up to 75 miles per hour. Ford is also offering anti-stab plates behind the front seats and optional ballistic door panels designed to stop small arms fire.
The company is also playing up the compatibility of parts between the two vehicles. The utility vehicle and the sedan share their basic engines, wheels and tires, making it easier to maintain and service fleets that include both models.
Bringing the Explorer and the new police vehicles to Chicago is also bringing additional jobs. Roughly 1,200 new workers will join the almost 3,000 currently working at the South Side plant.
"New business is always great business to have," said plant manager Jan Allman. "This is continuing our growth here at Chicago Assembly."