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Chrysler unveiled Tuesday the first photo of its all-new police car based on the Dodge Charger — providing fresh evidence of a brewing police car war in which rival automakers have one main competitor in their sights: Ford.

Although U.S. law enforcement agencies buy just about 75,000 police vehicles a year — a small number compared with the more than 10.4 million cars and trucks bought by U.S. consumers last year — the sales are profitable, given all the high-tech gadgets and upgrades on police cars.

Ford has long dominated the police car market, capturing about three-fourths of all sales, and it plans to phase out its aging Crown Victoria police car next year. The Ford Crown Victoria, which battled image problems and lawsuits over gas tank explosions in rear-end collisions, will be replaced by a Taurus-based Police Interceptor and all-new SUV-based police vehicle.

But now, Chrysler has an aggressive plan to steal share in the police market and has given its Charger police car a fitting new name: the Dodge Charger Pursuit.

That’s not the only new entry, either. General Motors plans to launch a new Caprice police car next year. What’s more, Carbon Motors, a start-up based in Connersville, Ind., hopes to begin producing a police car — built solely for that purpose — called the E7 in 2013

“With the Crown Vic being retired, I think that market share looks appealing to all three manufacturers,” said Brian Moran, a retired lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who has served on both Ford and Chrysler police advisory boards.

Source: Brent Snavely for the Detroit Freepress.

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