Police chiefs meeting in San Diego this week couldn’t stop talking about what they’d seen on the convention floor: the Carbon E7, the world’s first “purpose-built” police car. It’s a 300-horsepower bio-diesel-fueled bad-guy chaser equipped with sensors for weapons of mass destruction and automatic license-plate scanners, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Faster and “greener” than the standby Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, Carbon Motors’ car is a bold entry for a start-up company challenging an increasingly fragmented auto market.
But for all its bluster – “a new brand of justice,” the promo kit proffers – Carbon Motors will have to win over police officers, a notably conservative blue brotherhood. Carbon Motors – an Atlanta-based collaboration among a small team of investors, engineers and Georgia Tech – needs to sell about 20,000 cars to the 240,000-vehicle US law-enforcement fleet to warrant its proposed 2012 production run. To gather engineering ideas and create marketing buzz, the company created a “Carbon Council” of nearly 2,000 beat officers who contributed 88 original ideas to the car – including a “hoseable” rear seat, an extra-wide driver’s seat set into a helicopter cockpit-style front compartment, and side emergency lights to increase visibility and safety. Carbon’s board of trustees include heavyweights such as Tom Ridge, former secretary of Homeland Security; 9/11 commission vice chair Lee Hamilton, and former New York Police Commissioner Lee Brown.