Full Size Vans
There are some alternatives, and I will list the pros and cons for each
This is the obvious alternative. These smaller vans are light duty vehicles and all but one that is on our authorized list is a well built and designed vehicle. I won't say what model that is! These would make things feasible, but would present challenges to our programs.
Low operational cost--economical engines/economy
Manueverability--very easy to drive
Only 7 or 8 passenger capacity
Light duty vehicle--could it take the beating? Designed for families not commercial use
Dodge Sprinter Van
These vans are designed by Mercedes Benz. Mercedes is a company within the Daimler Chrysler brand which is why they are badged as a Dodge. They are ugly as can be. They were built for Europe, and have a very European design. You can see them on the roads as Fed Ex or UPS delivery vans. They do make a 10 passenger model. They have a 2.7 liter 5 cylinder turbo diesel engine that makes it very economical. I am not sold on these one way or the other, but I thought they could be an alternative.
Very economical--diesel engine gets an average 22 mpg...amazing for a commercial vehicle!
10 passenger seating--apparantly the new standard
Mercedes Engineering--Mercedes makes amazing vehicles
Commercial Duty--could take a beating
Higher initial cost--several thousand dollars more than a current full size van
Diesel engines don't like the cold--would officers remember to "plug them in"
High profile would make them a sail in the wind
Full Size SUV
When I mention full size SUV's I am not talking about your friendly neighborhood family vehicle. I am talking of the big ones that used to be used in commercial applications prior to being a suburban fashion statment. I am thinking specifically of the Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition EL (extended length). These vehicles are truck platforms. They are designed to have comfortable seating for up to 9 and be able to carry cargo.
Truck toughness--could take a beating!
Mixed use vehicle--could haul passengers and cargo with ease.
New engines make them very economical--new Suburban gets 20 mpg highway! 15 in the city!
4 wheel drive would be helpful in the northeast!
9 passenger seating--more comfortable than a minivan!
Higher purchase cost--however due to the high gas prices, discounts are sure to be there.
Slight higher cost to operate over minivans
Those of you that know me know that I am a car nut! I read magazines and study cars a lot. I feel that the best way to move forward with this if we do in fact get rid of the vans is to go with the full size SUV's. They are very spacious and could truly be a mixed use vehicle. Minivans are great! I love the one we have, but I would hate to see how they respond to being a mixed use vehicle that transports a lot of weight, whether it be people or cargo regularly. I am sure the transmissions would take a beating, tires, seats, etc. Minivans are currenlty designed more for families and that is evident by the seating and features currently offered in them. The Sprinter is unproven as far as I am concerned. My fear would be that officers would not maintain a diesel properly, as they do require different maintenance then gasoline vehicles.
The Suburban has been in production for 70 years. IT is a proven truck that can be comfortable and haul lots of food, toys, kettles, soda, and several of your average Home League ladies. Being that it is a truck, it could do these tasks and still shine for several years. I was more convinced when I saw that the standard engine has the cylinder deactivation mode that shuts down 4 of the 8 cylinders when they are not needed. That is why it is so economical.
What will happen? I have no clue! I am a low man on the totem pole and my voice is not heard. I will purhcase whatever vehicle I am allowed to and whatever vehicles makes the most sense for my application in Norwich.
What do you think???????