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More police departments invest in hybrid vehicles 

Jay Pearsall outfits a Ford Interceptor hybrid at

Jay Pearsall outfits a Ford Interceptor hybrid at Island Tech Services in Ronkonkoma for the Sag Harbor Village Police Department. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Several Long Island police departments are hoping to save some green while going green.

Sag Harbor Village officials believe they became the first Suffolk County law enforcement agency to receive Ford’s new Interceptor Utility hybrid SUV last month, the first pursuit-rated SUV to hit the market with a standard hybrid engine.

Sag Harbor paid $40,460 for the hybrid Interceptor — or about $3,500 more than if it had opted for a traditional engine — but Sag Harbor Chief Austin McGuire said the agency will quickly recoup that added cost through fuel savings.

“I think it will probably pay for itself in the first year,” McGuire said. “It’s kind of incumbent for municipalities to start looking for greener solutions.”

The Interceptor is the best-selling police vehicle in the country and is similar to the Ford Explorer. Several other local departments have also ordered the hybrid vehicle.

The automotive maker said 2,600 hybrid units were ordered this year from police departments across the United States, or about 17% of the 15,000 Interceptors ordered this year. The Suffolk County Police Department has ordered six Interceptors and the Nassau County department has ordered two, according to those departments. The New York Police Department has 1,700 hybrid vehicles in its fleet, including 259 SUVs.

Sag Harbor has also ordered a hybrid Ford Responder sedan for its seven-vehicle fleet. The Interceptor is being outfitted for police work at Island Tech Services in Ronkonkoma and could be on the road in March, McGuire said.

Ford said the SUV gets about 24 combined city and highway miles per gallon — a 41% improvement over the current Police Interceptor Utility equipped with a conventional 3.7-liter gas engine — and could save taxpayers between $3,500 and $5,700 in annual fuel costs per vehicle.

The hybrid Interceptor is not a plug-in vehicle. It instead uses a gas engine and an electric battery that is charged through the engine and kinetic energy lost while braking, a process known as regenerative braking.

Ford in a news release said the hybrid Interceptor performs better than its all-gas engine predecessor and topped out at 137 mph in a Michigan State Police test.

“Hybrid technology is ideal for law enforcement because of the potentially significant idle-time fuel savings,” Ford said in a news release. “When police vehicles are stationary, a conventional gasoline engine must run continuously to power emergency lighting, radios, computers and other on-board electrical equipment.”

The Dearborn, Michigan-based carmaker said the latest Interceptor also comes with a system that monitors a 270-degree area around the vehicle and analyzes movement up to 80 feet away for “potentially threatening behavior.”

McGuire noted it will also be easier for smaller departments to transition to an all-hybrid fleet as they purchase fewer vehicles and their upfront cost is cheaper. 

Quogue Village, less than five square miles and where the speed limit tops out at 35 mph, has ordered three Interceptor units for its police department and also expects to soon recoup the additional cost.

“Our village will be ideal for the hybrid regenerative braking system,” said Quogue Police Lt. Daniel Hartman. “Essentially all of our driving is done on residential streets.”

Ford Police Interceptor Utility:

  • First pursuit-rated hybrid SUV
  • Gets 23 mpg city, 24 mpg highway
  • Estimated to save between $3,500 and $5,700 per year per car in fuel costs
  • U.S. law enforcement agencies ordered 2,600 units this year

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