Why Police Asked Ford to Make Them a Hybrid Car

April 10, 2017, 8:16 PM UTC

Police officers may not seem like the most likely customers for hybrid cars — vehicles better known for saving the environment than high-speed performance — but police departments have pushed for such a vehicle in hopes of saving their departments money at the pump.

Now, Ford has developed a car to achieve that cost savings while also providing a pursuit-rated vehicle that can carry out all the functions that police officers have come to rely on from high-speed chases to riding on curbs. The new car, the Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan, will be available for use by police departments across the country next year, the company said Monday.

It will also save a lot of money. Ford estimates that replacing one police car with a hybrid would save a police department nearly $3,900 with gas at $2.50 a gallon, according to the Associated Press. “This will be the first pursuit hybrid,” Joseph Hinrichs, Ford’s Americas president, tells Fortune. “It’s going to save fuel, lower emissions, power electric devices and they are quieter vehicles.”

Ford said officers have already responded positively to the vehicle in tests and that driving the vehicle seemed to address some initial concerns about driving a hybrid police vehicle.

The move comes as U.S. car manufacturers continue to improve the fuel efficiency of their fleets in response to both pressure from regulators and consumer demand. Under President Obama, regulators implemented rules to push average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. President Trump called for a review of those standards last month following a push from the auto industry.

But Hinrichs insists the company is moving forward no matter what happens with regulations, citing continued demand from consumers for good fuel economy and growing demand from millennials for environmentally friendly vehicles. Ford says the company has invested $3.5 billion in electric vehicles and will roll out 13 hybrid-electric or electric vehicles in the next five years.

“We’re developing our products under the assumption that those don’t change,” Hinrichs said, referring to the federal rules. But “our belief is that for emissions purposes, demand will continue to go up.”