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Old 12-21-2004, 07:39   #1 (permalink)
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US:Ford won't sell cars to Arkansas police

Ford won't sell cars to Arkansas police

Dispute over Crown Vic lawsuit puts 249 cars -- 40 for state troopers -- on hold indefinitely

Associated Press

EL DORADO, Ark. -- A dispute with Arkansas' attorney general over claims made about its police interceptors has led Ford Motor Co. to suspend delivery of its Crown Victoria police cars to Arkansas agencies.

The Arkansas attorney general's office is investigating whether the Crown Victoria Police Interceptors are really as loaded as Ford says they are. On hold are 249 cars, including 40 for the state police.

"We believe some of the representations made by Ford regarding the CVPI are false," the attorney general's office said. "We examined approximately 20 systems identified in Ford's marketing materials as CVPI features. Based upon our examination of the 2000 model, some of the features are present, others are not."

Ford says all the advertised features are present, including a heavy-duty frame, heavier springs, shocks and front stabilizer bar, as well as an additional rear stabilizer.

"In contrast to the attorney general's claims, the steel wheel, found on all police interceptor vehicles, is heavy duty," Ford says.

The CVPI is also equipped with an engine oil cooler and a higher idle speed, which promotes greater coolant circulation speed for extended idling periods frequent in police duty vehicles.

"In short, the Arkansas attorney general's findings are without merit," said Tony Gratson, Ford's government sales manager.

Union County Sheriff Ken Jones said five cars were due for delivery Tuesday but that Ford refuses to release them into Arkansas. They were being held in Memphis, Tenn., on Monday.

Ford has asked for a waiver from the attorney general for future sales, which would allow it to sell the cars without the threat of litigation, but the state refused, Gratson said.

"Ford dealers will not deliver vehicles, regardless of order date, because the state's top law enforcement department is incorrectly contending that the vehicle does not possess the attributes as advertised," a Ford statement says.

A side-by-side comparison of different models is scheduled for Wednesday at the state police garage in Little Rock.

Meanwhile, Jones is not happy that his deputies will be doing duty in "worn-out patrol units."

"I'm exploring my avenues, because we had a public bid for these police cars and a local dealership won those bids," he said. Jones said there is not a comparable car on the market.

"I'm concerned that one of my deputies is going to have to respond to a call in a worn-out, high mileage vehicle. I can see the situation going down real fast, if we can't keep our fleet up."
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Old 12-22-2004, 06:46   #2 (permalink)
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Re: US:Ford won't sell cars to Arkansas police

Ford to meet with Arkansas AG's office in police cruiser lawsuit dispute

State investigating complaints that some police cruisers weren't delivered with all features advertised

By Jay Hughes / Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK -- The Arkansas Attorney General's office says it will meet with Ford Motor Co. representatives Wednesday in a disagreement over whether the company's police cruisers are equipped with all the features advertised.

Attorney General Mike Beebe said Ford will have a chance to make its case that the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor incorporates the full options package that makes it superior to civilian models for law enforcement purposes.

Ford is refusing to deliver 2005 police models to Arkansas law enforcement agencies because Beebe's office is investigating complaints that some Crown Victorias sold as PI models were essentially the civilian version. His office has said that an examination of 2000 models showed that some of the police package features were present and others weren't.

"If these vehicles are what they are purported to be, then Ford has nothing to worry about from us. If, on the other hand, the advertising and promotion isn't matched up with the actual product, then they do have a problem with us," Beebe said Tuesday. "But only a thorough investigation will reveal that."

Ford says all the advertised features are present, including a heavy-duty frame, heavier springs, shocks and front stabilizer bar, as well as an additional rear stabilizer. The CVPI is also advertised as equipped with an engine oil cooler and a higher idle speed, which promotes greater coolant circulation speed for extended idling periods frequent in police duty vehicles.

About 249 cars, including 40 intended for the Arkansas State Police, are on hold while Ford refuses to deliver them. The Crown Victoria is a popular model among law enforcement agencies; Ford claims 85 percent market share.

"The Arkansas police themselves have never complained about Ford's advertising or the performance of the police interceptor in the field," Ford said in a statement Tuesday.

Ford said it has followed a "no-sale" policy to agencies that sue over the CVPI since 1993. The company said it instituted the policy in Arkansas because Beebe refused to exempt the 2005 models from the attorney general's investigation, which the company fears is a prelude to litigation.

"Common sense dictates that Ford should not sell more cars to someone who might sue you over the cars," the statement said. "Ford regrets that it cannot continue to sell police interceptors in Arkansas, but this was a business decision."

Beebe said if his office finds that Ford has been selling Crown Victorias as police interceptors, which cost more than regular models, but has not included the full package of options, he will go to court seeking a refund on the difference in price.

Also, he said, if irregularities are found there could be penalties under the state's deceptive trade practices statute.

Beebe said he regrets that the investigation prompted Ford to quit delivering new police vehicles to Arkansas.

"It's inconvenient for police officers, and we certainly did not want them to not deliver the vehicles," he said.
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