VICTORIA Police Highway Patrol will replace their Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore V8 pursuit cars with a fleet of turbo diesel BMW 5 Series sedans from next year.
With the end of local production of the Falcon last year - and the Commodore reaching the end of the line next month - police divisions across Australia have had to source specialised foreign cars for the highway patrol.
Police in NSW and other states are understood to be on the verge of confirming they will follow suit, as BMW is one of the few car manufacturers globally to make vehicles specifically for police work.
Police in Germany, Italy and the UK also use BMW sedans for highway patrol duties.
Even though it's powered by a diesel engine, the BMW 530d has acceleration and braking to match the Falcon and Commodore - yet it uses half as much fuel as a Commodore V8 and has more advanced safety technology.
But police won't be enjoying leather-lined luxury; BMW has stripped the car back to basics and is purpose-built for highway patrol work.
The BMW 530d costs $120,000 to retail customers, however News Corp Australia understands the police edition is significantly cheaper given most of the luxury features have been removed, and BMW has offered a substantial fleet discount.
Victoria's Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer said highway patrol vehicles have specific operational requirements.
"BMW is the only company to date that has been able to provide a factory fitted 'police pack' making the commercial agreement an extremely attractive value for money decision,” said Assistant Commissioner Fryer.
Police would not comment on the exact cost of the car but a person familiar with the deal said the "whole of life cost” of running BMWs, including servicing, fuel and resale costs are "on par” with the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon pursuit cars.
At cruising speeds the BMW 530d sips less fuel than a Toyota Camry Hybrid.
The claimed fuel consumption average is just 5.1L/100km, less than half a Holden Commodore V8 (12.6L/100km).
Although the cars will be phased in gradually, the deal will be big business for BMW, which also supplies armoured vehicles to the Federal Government and the Prime Minister's fleet.
There are approximately 1000 highway patrol vehicles across Australia - including more than 200 in Victoria, more than 200 in Queensland and about 400 in NSW - that combined do more than 4.5 million vehicle stops and emergency responses each year.
"BMW to date is the only supplier to meet our specific requirements and strip out the luxury features but maintain the safety and performance,” said Assistant Commissioner Fryer.
Victoria Police says it is continuing to engage with the car industry and is also considering other options for the highway patrol fleet.
Other states are poised to follow Victoria with BMWs, although to date Queensland has only confirmed its traffic police will use Hyundais. NSW is also understood to be adding the Chrysler 300 SRT8 V8 sedan to its highway patrol fleet.
Police in South Australia, West Australia and the ACT are understood to also be considering the next generation Toyota Camry V6 due to be released later this year, however there are already concerns by police that offenders may be more likely to attempt to outrun them.
The new BMWs will only be used by specialised highway patrol units; general duties police will continue to drive vehicles such as Toyota Camry sedans, Hyundai SUVs and caged vans from Volkswagen and Hyundai.
Price: $120,000 (retail)
Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, rear-wheel-drive
0 to 100km/h: 5.7 seconds
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling
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