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Update from Dodge Police Advisory Board

The FCA/Dodge Police Advisory Board met in conjunction with the Michigan State Police vehicle tests. Bick Pratt, Senior Manager, FCA Government Sales & Operations, updated the 22 police fleet managers in two areas. One is the 60 consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases. FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) is doing quite well. The four-year agreement between FSC and the United Auto Workers is just another healthy sign.

The other area was a review of the solid improvements that the Police Advisory Board has made to the Charger Pursuit, and indirectly the retail Dodge Charger. It was the Dodge PAB that first pushed for increased A-pillar and windshield visibility on the 2006-2010 Charger. These recommendations were put into effect on the 2011–current retail and police Charger.

The list of PAB members is on the FCA website.

Other past changes as a result of the PAB input included seat belt extenders; solid lug nuts instead of chrome capped lug nuts; 100K-mile spark plugs on the 5.7L V8; and an upgrade to the 5-year/100K-mile powertrain warranty. Other improvements credited to PAB input include the more median and curb-tolerant rear lower fascia, Secure Park idle theft protection, and All-wheel Drive in a pursuit package. The AWD take rate is 30 percent, which is higher than expected, especially considering AWD is only an option with the 5.7L V8 powertrain and not with the 3.6L V6 powertrain.

The Charger Pursuit currently has 43 percent of the police market and is the number-one selling police sedan.

As for durability in police work, with many AWD Charger Pursuits in the 30K-mile to 50K-mile range, there have been “no reports” of AWD issues. If your department experiences an AWD issue with a Charger Pursuit, contact your FCA Fleet Government Account Manager (GAM).

A list of all eight GAMs is on the FCA Fleet website.


2015 Durango SSV

Paraphrasing Mark Twain, “The reports of the Durango’s death have been greatly exaggerated.” The production of the Durango as we currently know it will continue for the foreseeable future.

For 2016, the Durango will get the 3.6L Pentastar V6 upgraded with Engine Stop-Start (ESS) technology. Stop-Start is a fuel economy improving step when the engine shuts off as the vehicle comes to a stop, then instantly restarts as the brake pedal is released. Taking less than a half-second to start, the engine has started and is ready to accelerate by the time the foot reaches the gas pedal.

The Stop-Start function may be deactivated using a switch on the instrument panel. Once deactivated, it will remain OFF until the next key-ON cycle. Stop-Start only works with the transmission in Drive. The engine remains running when the gear selection is in all the other positions, i.e., Stop-Start does not shut off an engine idling in Park.

Another fuel economy measure is the use of all-electric assist power steering. No hoses to leak. No hydraulic pump for the engine to drive. Finally, the Durango has had a nine-pound to 68-pound weight reduction, depending on drivetrain and trim level. Overall, the 2016 Durango picks up 1 mpg City and 2 mpg Highway (2WD) or 1 mpg Highway (4WD). The Durango Special Service Package is available on the 3.6L V6 and 5.7L V8, and as a 2WD or 4WD.


Big Screen

Anything added to the interior of the vehicle after it leaves the factory reduces the crash survivability of the driver and passenger. The biggest officer safety news from Dodge since airbags and stability control was unveiled at the Police Fleet Expo-Milwaukee: the Integrated Display Screen. Called the Big Screen, the rest of the three-day PAB conference was all about this built-in, factory-installed, Original Equipment, 12.1-inch computer monitor.

Most of the next-generation police sedans have limited interior room. At the same time, law enforcement has increased the communications, emergency and enforcement equipment carried in the interiors. All this added equipment also creates major upfitting issues. Placing the devices in the trunk may not be a solution since the trunks on all of the NextGen sedans are smaller than the outgoing Ford CVPI.

It also creates occupant safety issues. For obvious safety reasons, this equipment must be mounted away from airbag deployment zones. Additional safety issues include mounting this equipment in a manner minimizing 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.


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. 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.

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.


Production Challenges

In 2013, the development of the Big Screen as a production option began. The integrated screen required a complete redesign to the instrument panel, IP. Those outside the auto industry have a hard time understanding how expensive any change to the IP is, let alone making room for a massive touchscreen display.

The integrated screen had to be much more than just Consumer-grade. It needs to be Automotive-grade. An auto-grade display must withstand extremes of temperature, both hot and cold. That means (-) 40 deg F to 185 deg F. It must withstand both shock (drop) and harsh vibration.

The integrated screen had to have electromagnetic compatibility, EMC. This involves two separate issues. An auto-grade EMC integrated display is one that both suppresses its own sources of electromagnetic interference and is hardened against outside sources of electromagnetic interference.

The result of all this development work is a 12.1-inch diagonal measure display, a true automotive-quality, Original Equipment solution. The optional Integrated Display Screen will be launched in late-March and available as a running change on the mid-2016 Charger Pursuit.


Full Screen and Split Screen

The automotive-quality production screen is from Mitsubishi Electric. The radio head is from Harman-Kardon, the ‘connected car’ specialists. The CAD software was developed by Motorola Solutions. The smoothly integrated, optional console for the Charger Pursuit’s ‘Big Screen’ is from Havis, and marked MOPAR by Havis.

Report writing software, peripherals, computing software, and other center consoles compatible with the Integrated Display Screen 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.”

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 one-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.


Revised IP and Consoles

The Integrated Display Screen is embedded between the two HVAC vents, which remain fully intact and functional. Compared to the standard Charger Pursuit, the version with the optional Integrated Display Screen has a slightly different placement of the OE controls. Of course, the entire trim bezel, from the HVAC vents to the driver’s door, is new.

The AM/FM radio and HVAC controls are placed lower on the instrument panel, allowing the Integrated Display Screen to be placed as high 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., remains ON for 45 seconds, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. The screen brightness is controlled by the same thumbwheel next to the steering wheel controls.

Once the Integrated Display Screen is in production, the Charger Pursuit will come 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 Integrated Display, which is priced separately from the Big Screen. As of September 2015, the MSRP pricing including the fleet discount structure for the Integrated Display Screen has not been announced.


Practical Advantages

Anything a laptop monitor will show, the Integrated Display 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 FCA Integrated Display Screen 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 Integrated Display Screen. 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 Integrated Display Screen is covered by the base three-year/36K mile factory warranty, and in 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.


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. By November 2015, all eight FCA Fleet Government Account Managers will have a Big Screen football.


Viper Assembly Plant

By Police Fleet Manager Staff


The Dodge Viper supercar is hand-built at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit. The dedicated people building dreams make just three Vipers a day. Compare that to 900 cars a day at the Brampton Assembly Plant where the Charger Pursuit is made. That works out to about 750 Vipers per year, and all are pre-sold, all are specific customer orders.

The Conner Avenue plant is about 400K square feet compared to the Brampton plant at 3 million square feet. In each of the two Viper assembly lines, each assembly tech works on the Viper for about two hours, 20 minutes. At Brampton, it is about 45 seconds per assembly station. Yeah, the Viper is hand-built. The start-to-finish assembly time, from when the first part is attached until the Viper drives out of the final inspection area, is about three weeks. 

Viper production began in 1992 at the New Mack Assembly Plant and was moved to the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in 1995. Originally a Champion Spark Plug plant, Conner Avenue was also the Plymouth Prowler assembly plant from 1997 to 2002. Production of the Viper was halted in 2010 and resumed in 2012. To date, over 30,000 Vipers have been produced.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Mar/Apr 2016

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