High-tech cop car won’t spin out — no matter how hard reporter tries
BY MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org October 2, 2012 9:56PM
Updated: November 4, 2012 6:21AM
The shopping mall chase scene in “The Blues Brothers” might be a little boring if the cops had been driving Ford’s new 2013 Police Interceptors in pursuit of Jake and Elwood.
Scratch the fish-tailing police cruisers smashing into mall kiosks. And cut the scenes of cop cars haplessly skidding in circles as retail debris goes flying.
I should know. I imagined myself in the former Dixie Square Mall as I tore into corners, accelerated and zigzagged orange cones — flattening more than a few in my wake — Tuesday afternoon during a test drive in a parking lot outside U.S. Cellular Field.
“I literally cannot get the car to spin out or slide, no matter how hard I try,” said Jason Holehouse, a professional race car driver and driving coach brought in by Ford to showcase the car’s abilities.
“It’s like the thing’s on rails,” Holehouse said.
The secret: an all-wheel drive system that constantly gauges the demands of the driver as it redistributes power to whichever wheel necessary — making as many as 100 changes per second. Couple that with a stability control system that recognizes when a driver is losing control and will override driver command — for example, by braking or by removing throttle even though the pedal may be to the floor — in order to maintain control.
It’s technology that mitigates high-speed human error.
“It takes the average driver and almost essentially turns them into a race car driver,” said Holehouse. “No matter how aggressive they are at the controls, the car will never let them go beyond 100 percent and create a slide or a skid.”
Even though my racing experience stems mostly from video games and go-carts, I was skeptical. But as I screeched around a sharp turn doing 40 in a maneuver that I felt confident would result in a skid, the car’s path stayed true.
“You feel that?” asked Ford spokesman Lisa Teed, who rode shotgun. “That’s what I’m talking about,” she said.
The Chicago Police Department has ordered 500 Police Interceptors at a price of $17.5 million.
They will be assembled at the Torrence Avenue Ford plant on the South Side.