So long, Saab. Hello, Volvo?
Volvo may replace Saab as the signature car of the Aspen Police Department.The Swedish automaker is interested in outfitting the department with a fleet of vehicles and may provide the squad cars free of charge, though a Volvo representative was making no promises on Monday.With the lease on its Saabs expiring at the end of this year, the council agreed to pursue a deal with Volvo. The council’s first choice – a hybrid gas/electric vehicle suited for police use – is still a few years away, at least.”What we’re hearing is the current generation of hybrids don’t work particularly well for police,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.Last year, the council nixed the department’s proposal to begin replacing its fleet with the purchase of four Dodge Durangos; members didn’t like the idea of buying big SUVs that lacked hybrid technology.Members were receptive to outfitting the department with the Volvo XC90 – even though it’s an SUV – as an interim vehicle until hybrids can handle the electrical demands of a squad car.The XC90 gets about 20 to 21 miles per gallon and meets the super-low emission vehicle standard, according to Randy Tuggle, general manager of Roaring Fork Volvo in Glenwood Springs.”It’s not really ostentatious and yet, it is a symbol of a luxury vehicle,” Tuggle said. “Is that important? I guess that’s up to you guys.”Volvo is currently in the final stages of working out a deal to provide close to 60 free vehicles to Vail for various uses and display, including the town’s squad cars, Tuggle said. It’s a partnership involving the auto manufacturer and the Town of Vail, Vail Resorts, Vail Associates and the Vail Valley Foundation to make Volvo the “official car of Vail,” he said.”They view [Aspen] as a very strong market for them,” he said. “They’re considering free cars. I don’t want to promise anything tonight.”It will depend on how many cars Aspen wants, when and for how long, Tuggle said.The police force, which currently leases three unmarked Saabs and seven marked Saab squad cars at $350 each per month, wants a larger vehicle that better handles the equipment officers need to transport, said Richard Pryor, assistant police chief.”The community image, which has sort of been out there with the Saab brand, that’s sort of the low priority for us,” he said.But council members noted Volvo’s reputation for safety and directed city staffers to discuss a lease arrangement for Volvos – unless, of course, the city can use them for free.”It’s not that I want or care about a prestige image, but it is nice to have a little big of a unique image – that it’s not like the Crown Victoria of every other police department in the country,” said Councilwoman Rachel Richards.”I think it would be a good fit for Aspen and most appropriate,” said Councilman Tim Semrau.The council has $105,000 budgeted to replace its fleet; at a minimum, it will cost $200,000 to replace the equipment in them and either lease vehicles or buy its used Saabs, Pryor said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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