Dodge Charger Uconnect 12.1 System

Anything added to the interior of the vehicle after it leaves the factory reduces the crash survivability of the driver and passenger. The big officer safety news from Dodge, and unveiled at the Police Fleet Expo–Milwaukee, is their Integrated Display Screen, aka the Big Screen, and now formally called the Uconnect™ 12.1 System. This is a built-in, factory-installed, Original Equipment, 12.1-inch computer monitor embedded in the Instrument Panel.

The problem is the current generation of police sedans have limited interior room. At the same time, law enforcement has increased the communications, emergency, and enforcement equipment carried in the interiors. This creates occupant safety issues. For obvious safety reasons, this equipment must be mounted away from airbag deployment zones, and mounted in a way to minimize sharp surfaces to prevent injury to the occupants in the event of a collision. The situation is even worse for departments with two-officer units.


Uconnect 12.1 System

The solution is a dash-embedded, touchscreen monitor that unclutters the entire interior, a trunk-mounted laptop or tablet, and a remote keyboard. That is what the Uconnect 12.1 System is all about.

The 2016-½ Charger Pursuit is available with the Uconnect 12.1 System, i.e., the Big Screen. The Auburn Hills, Mich. Police were the first to put the 12.1 screen into service. The Michigan State Police; North Carolina Highway Patrol; Fresno, California Police; Ohio State Highway Patrol; and the Carol Stream (Chicago), Ill. Police have all just received these Chargers.

In spite of its super-clean appearance and clutter-free upfit, the Big Screen never included a complete computer. It is simply a massive display in portrait format. All of the computing power comes from the police department’s own laptop in the trunk.


Portrait Layout

The Charger’s touchscreen is mounted in a ‘portrait’ (vertical) mounting position, contrary to the majority of law enforcement in-car displays and laptops, which are in the ‘landscape’ (horizontal) position. The CAD software was developed by Motorola Solutions. Engineers from Motorola Solutions have successfully adapted the landscape CAD software to work with the portrait screen. Importantly, the full-screen-width landscape content becomes full-screen-width portrait content, just like any iPhone or iPad.

As this type of in-dash display sees widespread police use, we will certainly see more portrait software from the mobile computing companies. For example, when a tablet is used outside the Charger, it may display in landscape, and when it is docked into the Charger, it turns to portrait.

The programming software doesn’t need to change, but the visibility of the software display, i.e., resolution, might need to change. If not, you might have to scroll right and left to see the complete display. You won’t want to do that. Some software seems to automatically change screen orientation. The leaders in software compatibility with the 12.1 screen include Intergraph (Hexagon), Motorola Solutions, Spillman, and SunGard.

Report writing software, peripherals, computing software, and other center consoles compatible with the Uconnect 12.1 System are all separate and in some cases, still under development. Virtually every public safety software, hardware, and peripheral company has been, or will be, contacted by FCA to partner with the Big Screen phase-in.

At this point in the development, Motorola Solutions and Panasonic are ‘all in.’ Peripheral software compatibility is still a question. Tablets seem to work better than laptops in this application. Windows 10 seems to be a good fit.


Automotive-Grade Touchscreen

The integrated screen is much more than just Consumer-grade. It is Automotive-grade. An auto-grade display must withstand extremes of temperature, both hot and cold. It withstands automotive-levels of both shock (drop) and harsh vibration. The automotive-quality production screen is from Mitsubishi Electric. The radio head is from Harman-Kardon, the ‘connected car’ specialists.


Full Screen, Split Screen

The Console Display Screen is basically two (seamless) screens stacked one above the other. The overall screen measures 7.3 inches wide by 9.7 inches tall in a vertical/portrait format, just like a sheet of paper. The Console Display Screen can be used in Split Screen mode or in Full Screen mode. The Full Screen has an 11.2-inch diagonal measure. The Console Display Screen has a 1-inch header at the top of the screen, which gives the overall screen its 12.1-inch diagonal measure.  

Called the Police Bar, this 1-inch header is used with both the Full Screen and the Split Screens. It contains the optional connection icons (AUX-4, Uconnect, PC-1, PC-2) and also the HVAC, temp, clock, and compass icons. Introduced in 2015, the Charger Pursuit has AUX-1, AUX-2, and AUX-3 controls on the steering wheel. The control for the AUX-4, located in the Police Bar, is new for the Big Screen and always displayed. The Police Bar is always on, even though the far right of the bar has the ‘Screen Off’ icon. The Screen Off icon darkens the entire display.  

In Split Screen mode, the display becomes two 8.4-inch diagonal measure touchscreens, an upper and a lower. On one 8.4-inch screen are all the OE icons and controls. On the other 8.4-inch screen are all of the police-specific icons and room for displays. In Full Screen mode, the entire 12.1-inch touchscreen can be devoted to police-specific use.


Optional Center Console

The smoothly integrated, optional console for the Charger Pursuit’s ‘Big Screen’ is from Havis, and marked MOPAR by Havis. The Charger with the Uconnect 12.1 System comes with one of three center consoles: 1) the standard police package mini-console, 2) the street appearance package full console, and 3) the optional MOPAR by Havis console for the Uconnect 12.1 System.

The option of the Uconnect 12.1 System does not include the made-for-the-Big Screen center console from Havis. This Havis console, which becomes an extension of the revised instrument panel, is a definite must-have for a smooth and professional upfit.

With the Uconnect 12.1 System, the AM/FM radio and HVAC controls are placed lower on the instrument panel, allowing the large touchscreen to be placed as high on the IP as possible. The media hub on the MOPAR by Havis console (USB port, AUX port, 12-volt power outlets) is placed at the very bottom of the vertical console, now facing forward from the mounting bracket.

The system works as long as the Charger is in the ACC/RUN position. If the Charger is in the RUN position and then turned OFF, the screen follows the radio setting, i.e., remain ON for 45 seconds, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. The screen brightness is controlled by the same thumbwheel next to the steering wheel controls.


Practical Advantages

Anything a laptop monitor will show, the Uconnect 12.1 System screen will show. However, this is not just a PC monitor, it is an enhanced monitor—it is a touchscreen monitor. Compared to aftermarket monitors or displays, the Charger Pursuit’s optional touchscreen has a number of practical and tactical advantages.

First, this OE automotive display uses a ‘resistive’ touchscreen, instead of the aftermarket ‘capacitive’ touchscreen. The FCA resistive touchscreen allows the use of gloves, or the use of thicker gloves. Second, the operating range of the OE Charger display is more temperature tolerant. It performs as low as (-) 40 deg F compared to just (-) 4 deg F, and as high as 185 deg F compared to just 160 deg F.



Some emergency lights and siren controls can be moved from a separate controller to the connect 12.1 System touchscreen. All of the wired connections are either Ethernet (PC to screen) or USB, i.e., all AUX devices. Instead of the image from the in-car camera being displayed in the rearview mirror, the images can be routed through the PC, and onto the Big Screen.

The system comes with a USB cable, located near the Audio/HVAC controls, that allows the department to connect a keyboard or mouse. The system may also be connected to a Bluetooth keyboard. The keyboard should be wirelessly connected to the laptop.

The Charger Pursuit has programmable switches mounted in the steering wheel, and in the touchscreen on vehicles equipped with the 12.1 screen. These can be configured to an output. Each switch connects to the VSIM, which provides an output that can be connected to a relay to drive a higher-current device. The switches are momentary contacts that can send a signal to the VSIM, which activates an output circuit. This means that the VSIM will provide the output until the switch is pressed again. See the VSIM section of the Upfitter’s Guide for pin position for each switch.

To configure the system, you will need to download Real VNC software to your computer. To obtain directions for downloading the software and the license, e-mail your request to Connect to the agency laptop to the Ethernet and audio cables located in the trunk. The Uconnect 12.1 System is covered by the base three-year/36K-mile factory warranty, and is included in any optional extended warranty.  


Big Screen Football

To fully explain the integrated Display Screen to city, county, and state fleet managers, FCA engineers have packaged all of the Big Screen components into a large self-contained travel case. Nicknamed the ‘football,’ the case contains a 12.1-inch OE touchscreen, dimmer switch, HVAC/radio control panel, Media Hub, VP3 Radio Head Unit, and a 110-volt power supply.

More than three dozen police departments have already had a two-week, hands-on evaluation with the Uconnect 12.1 System Portable Training Unit. This PTU is essentially the 12.1 screen in a briefcase. Simply hook up the department’s laptop to the 12.1 screen using an Ethernet cable and set up the PC. This will serve as a double-check on the software compatibility. The screen resolution (orientation) may need to change as you go from landscape (desk) mode to portrait (car) mode.

A laptop loaded with compatible software is the final piece, just like in the real Charger Pursuit.

In addition to a portable demo unit, the Big Screen football would also be an excellent in-service training tool. For a lot more information, go to and clicked on ‘Uconnect 12.1.’ The clutter-clearing, officer safety-oriented 12.1 Uconnect System has an MSRP of $2,240 and a Factory Wholesale Price (FWP), which is a typical fleet transaction price, of $1,994.


Installing the Must-Have Havis Center Console


·         Remove the OEM track and center console.

·         Unplug all the four (4) plugs and remove the HVAC control and Aux panel by gently prying along the dash to release the six (6) clips.

·         Add the HVAC support bracket to the OEM control. Make sure all six (6) clips are fully seated in the bracket.

·         Re-install the bracket and control in the dash by using two (2) supplied #10x¾” sheet metal screws.

·         Place console up to dash and remove the accessory pocket. Attach the two (2) supplied M6 flange nuts to the OEM studs.

·         Use ¼x¾ self-threading screws (included in the kit) to loosely attach the rear of the console to existing floor inserts. Inserts are located under the rubber mat. (7/16 socket)

·         Plug in the USB and Aux extension wires from the Aux pass-through module into the OEM Aux panel on the HVAC module. Tuck wires to the side and re-install the accessory pocket.

·         Attach the driver side filler to the console and the HVAC support bracket using three (3) supplied #8x¼” flat head screws. Repeat the process for the other side.

·         The console housing installation is now complete. (The Uconnect 12.1 System Ethernet and audio cables originate in the trunk, upper right side.)


“The swap from the OE console with radio and HVAC control to the new console was smooth,” said Sean Kelly with Police Department Systems in Tinley Park, Ill. “It is a good upfit design.”

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Sep/Oct 2016

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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