Detroit—If you think consumer cars have more electrical and electronic equipment these days, you should take a look inside new police cars. Mobile data terminals, radio communication and navigation systems, on-dash video systems, sirens, flashing lights, and a variety of other power-consuming features make Detroit's new police cars for 2002 and beyond look more like vehicles from Star Trek and less like something you'd see in the television show Cops. The increase in electrical and electronic tools for tracking down bad boys has designers at DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and GMC rethinking electrical systems in law-enforcement vehicles.
"What's different about our new Impala line of police cars is the fully integrated electronics system," says GMC's Bruce Wyley. He is one of the engineers who designed the car and is now the product manager for GMC's line of police vehicles.
The car's integrated electronic system relies on a large 125W CS125/7 alternator from Bosch Automotive (Racine, WI). The alternator has transient voltage spike protection and load response control that help the alternator prevent the Impala from stalling when the electric current demand increases. "If the computer senses more than 96 amps of electric draw while idling, it automatically boosts the idle speed to generate the extra current needed," says Wiley.
Preventing the car from stalling due to excessive electric demands is very important to police officers in the field. "If I'm using a search light, mobile data terminal, radio, and other types of law-enforcement tools while investigating an active crime scene, stalling the car is one of the worst things that could happen," says David Wright, the Chief of Police in Bay Village, OH.
Over at Ford, Michael Blackmer says that the new Crown Victoria will probably get a bigger alternator, too. Blackmer is the Police Brand Specialist at Ford, but his job includes managing the engineering department for police vehicles. Ford is currently using 135-amp alternators from Visteon (Plymouth, MI) in the police versions of the Crown Victoria, which is called the Interceptor.
Blackmer says that Ford engineers looked at all the electrical and electronics options that police departments put into pursuit vehicles, thinking that Ford could do a better job of integrating electronics during vehicle assembly than the myriad of after-market retrofitters.
"We realized that everyone wants something different," he says. "That's right, every police car is different," agrees Gerry Appie, the Manager of Fleet Engineering at DaimlerChrysler. The company's 2002 Intrepid is pre-wired, providing 100A power at the dash and the trunk.
"We're pre-wiring for every possible option a police department could want," says Blackmer. He explains that pre-wiring eliminates the need for retrofitters to tear the car apart when installing the wiring.
He also says that pre-wiring is safer. "There's a wide range of people doing after-market work," he says. "I've seen fasteners screwed into gas tanks and brake lines," says Blackmer.
Blackmer also notes that while a bigger alternator may handle to-day's electronic and electrical needs, he is not so sure about tomorrow (see p. 71). "Hopefully, the electronics technology will become more energy efficient down the road," he says. "If not, we'll have to think about putting a small nuclear generator in the trunk."
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