America's quintessential cop car, used by Hollywood in 1980s and '90s hits like "Dragnet" and "Men in Black," is no longer.
The last Ford Crown Victoria rolled off the assembly line yesterday at a now-closed Ford assembly plant in Ontario, Canada. Large and fuel-inefficient, Crown Victorias hadn't been offered to the public since 2008, selling instead to fleet customers, such as police departments and taxi companies.
So what will America's police departments do?
Hoard the remaining Crown Vics, for one thing. Police forces from Austin, Texas, to Pittsburgh have reportedly been stockpiling the cars. They remain popular with police for their simplicity, heft, and safety.
Other departments are using alternatives. The Chevrolet Caprice, a bulky four-door sedan, is in wide use by police, and Chevrolet recently introduced a new police-specific model for 2012. Many forces are also turning to the Dodge Charger, which is particularly popular as a high-speed pursuit vehicle.
Taxi companies are also making the switch.
For example: Mustard yellow Crown Vics were a longtime staple of life in New York City. But the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission is slowly moving to other options. In 2005, the city introduced the Ford Escape Hybrid, an SUV billed as their “clean air taxi” and getting 34 miles to the gallon. As of October 2010, there were approximately 2,800 of them on the city’s road’s (compared with 8,042 Stretch Crown Victorias), according to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The city also uses Toyota Sienna vans (1,328 on the roads at last count), which are wheelchair accessible. In May, the city began negotiations with Nissan for a fleet of NV200’s, a fully electric minivan, to serve as the city’s exclusive taxicab model. The car was the winner of Mayor Bloomberg and the City of New York’s “Taxicab of Tomorrow” competition
But the Nissan vans aren’t expected to be ready until 2013. In the meanwhile, the city has approved use of Ford Transit Connect model vans, which run on natural gas.
In their heyday, the Crown Vics were a big-seller. Part of its "Panther Platform” of vehicles, which also included the Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car, Ford sold more than 10 million Crown Vics during its 32-year run. But only 80,000 sold last year. In an era of high gas prices and hybrids, a vehicle getting 24 miles per gallon just doesn't quite rate as the car of the future.