When the Ford Crown Victoria went out of production in 2011, few civilians likely noticed.
But police officers certainly did: The Crown Victoria--or "Crown Vic" for short--had become the mainstay vehicle of police departments across the U.S.
Its departure left a big hole in the market for police cars, which is now filled by a variety of vehicles from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, and a few non-U.S. companies.
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And an increasing number of them are now hybrids.
Toyota hopes to demonstrate that point with a new short documentary by filmmaker Peter Byck, director of the 2010 documentary Carbon Nation.
Hybrid Law tells the story of an Arkansas police department that replaced 10 Crown Vics with Toyota Camry Hybrid sedans.
2009 Toyota Camry HybridEnlarge Photo
Perhaps not surprisingly, some officers were skeptical when the Arkadelphia city government decided to make the switch.
"I was dead set against it," officer Don Cleek declares in film, saying that a real police car should have a V-8, rear-wheel drive, and be able to "go through ditches."
But regardless of what individual officers thought, city officials were sold on the Camry Hybrid police cars because of the money they would save in running costs.
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The hybrids currently average 27 mpg on patrol, in mostly city driving conditions. The old Crown Vics could only muster 12 to 14 mpg in the same circumstances.
Officials have found maintenance cost for the Toyota hybrids to be much lower than those of their Ford predecessors.
Besides saving Arkadelphia money, the hybrids have certain features that helped win over their early critics.
2009 Ford Escape Hybrid used by NYPD traffic unit, by Samuel Smith from NYCPDcars.50webs.comEnlarge Photo
Better gas mileage means cars can stay on patrol longer, which helps the police maintain a more visible presence.
And in electric mode, they're even quiet enough to sneak up on bad guys. The cops that drive them have taken to calling this their "stealth mode."
For that reason and others, Arkansas isn't the only place you'll find hybrid police cars.
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Many departments have added hybrids to their fleets over the past few years in an effort to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
The New York Police Department, the country's largest, operates Chevy Volt plug-in hybrids, Ford Fusion Hybrids, and older Ford Escape Hybrids.
Considering that police cars spend a good portion of each shift in stop-and-go traffic or simply idling, it's a fairly good fit.