CHICAGO | Production of Ford Motor Co.'s flagship "Protect and Serve" vehicle has started, and it soon may be on a street near you.
Built on the platform of the Ford Taurus sedan or Ford Explorer utility vehicle, the Police Interceptor replaced the Crown Victoria police car when the Chicago Assembly Plant began producing the vehicle in January. Production of the Crown Victoria in Ontario, Canada, ended last year. The Police Interceptor is the fourth vehicle the Chicago Assembly Plant produces in addition to the Lincoln MKS, Taurus and Explorer.
A utility version of the Police Interceptor is being shown at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show through Sunday. It is a new addition to the company's police vehicle offerings.
Gerald Koss, fleet marketing manager for Ford, said the company began accepting orders for the vehicles in June and delivery could begin for customers as early as next month.
"The market reception has just been fantastic," Koss said.
Koss said police agencies have been please with all-wheel drive being standard on both vehicles. He also said people have been pleased with the Police Interceptor vehicles not losing performance, although they use a V6 engine instead of the V8 engines found in Crown Victoria sedans.
"That is just a game changer," Koss said.
Carlo Bishop, president of the United Auto Workers Local 551, which represents hourly assembly plant workers, said there's room to build five vehicles in Chicago, but there has been no indication the last spot would be filled immediately.
Ford is aligning its operations to bring on a third shift at the Chicago Assembly Plant in the second quarter. Union employment at the facility is approaching 2,900, which is more than double what it was two years ago. Last year, officials from the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker said more than 1,000 workers would be added to its Chicago-area workforce in the next few years.
The manufacturer's suggested retail price for the sedan and utility models of the Police Interceptor are $27,210 and $28,580 for the front-wheel drive models. For the all-wheel drive sedan and utility vehicles, the price tags are $28,360 and $29,705, respectively.