An ambitious start-up, Carbon Motors seeks to create the world's first purpose-built cop car, a refreshing change to the beefed-up Ford Crown Victoria or Chevy Impala used by most police departments in the United States. Designed by law enforcement professionals, the vehicle includes such features as driver-specific intelligent keys, 360 degree exterior surveillance, the ability to withstand a 75 mph rear impact crash and, lest they leave out the practical needs, a hoseable rear passenger compartment.
Recently applying for a $310 million loan from the U.S. government, Carbon plans to occupy a shuttered automobile plant in Indiana to produce the low emission turbo-diesel E7 vehicle—a 300-horse power patrol car that won't be any more costly than the modified civilian cars already in use by police departments.
Gaining popularity across the country, the concept captures the imaginations of police agencies as it continues its coast-to-coast tour, fast becoming the real-life successor to KITT in Knight Rider.
Questioned by those in the auto press, the car attracts some skepticism for its niche market. âI think the E7 is overkill,â writes columnist Ezra Dyer in this month's Automobile Magazine. âAnd I don't want my tax money going toward a piece of equipment that will primarily be used to pull me over the moment I venture 12 mph over the speed limit.â
Whether the E7 will revolutionize law enforcement or prove to be a DeLorean-esque boondoggle will remain unknown until 2012, when the first E7s are slated to roll off the assembly line.