Holden is on the brink of announcing its biggest-ever customer order.
Long rumoured, the deal to sell Holden-built Chev badged cars to US police forces is essentially a done deal. In fact, it's so close to done that Holden chief Alan Batey was in Denver today to press the flesh with the boys in blue.
In an effort to secure its share of the US police car market, the Aussie carmaker and its Chairman trekked to Denver and the world's biggest police exhibition IAPC (International Association of Police Chiefs Conference) to unveil a special edition of its Gulf States WM-based Caprice sedan -- complete with gun rack and prisoner barrier. And while Holden execs in Australia are playing their cards close to their chests (there will be a watered-down announcement tomorrow, Tuesday) we can exclusively report that the deal is done. Holden-built police cars will be on the beat Stateside by early 2011.
As noted above, the new car will be sold in North America as a Chevrolet with the aim of taking a large slice of the 70,000 police sedan sales each year. Indeed, if the car proves popular with forces across the USA, Holden could end up selling more sedans to North America as police cars than it sells sedans in total in Australia.
The stalwart US police car for the past two decades, the Ford Crown Victoria, is coming to an end in 12 months and, until today, there was no viable replacement.
"This is all systems go," the boss of Holden, Alan Batey told the Carsales Network at IAPC in Denver today.
"We are here to get as much customer feedback as possible but as far as we're concerned this is full steam ahead for us. We have already been working on this for 12 months."
Batey said production of the police cars would start at the end of 2010, putting cars on the beat in early 2011.
The Caprice is shorter in overall length but has a roomier cabin than the outgoing Ford sedan. It also out manoeuvers and outpaces the aging Crown Victoria.
Holden will sell V8 versions first but direct-injected V6 version will follow nine months later.
"This is a big deal for Australia and for us and we're going to do all we can to get it right."
Batey will visit police chiefs across the USA this week, including the high-profile Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) which has been working with Melbourne-based company, National Safety Agency, on an onboard police computer system which could be fitted to the cars.
The LAPD will have a Pontiac G8 (the US market version of the Commodore SS) on the road next week as part of a three-month trial of the police computer technology.
LAPD deputy chief Charles Beck described the car and its computer system -- which integrates 27 devices into one large touch screen display -- as: "the closest thing to the holy grail of police cars" he'd seen in his career.
The Police Caprice export deal comes less than six months after Holden was floored with the announcement that the Commodore-based Pontiac G8 export program to the USA would be axed as part of General Motors' post bankruptcy restructure.
The Carsales Network first uncovered Holden's lucrative deal with North America's police force in February, when our eagle-eyed Editor spotted a Pontiac G8 in LAPD livery parked outside Holden's head office.
-- with staff
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