Last week it was revealed that the New Zealand Police were in the process of testing Skoda’s new Superb iV plug-in hybrid as a future fixture in its ‘Prime One’ vehicle line-up.
Speaking at the national launch of the electrified Skoda today, New Zealand Police fleet manager Brian Yanko confirmed that the move signals a desire for the organisation to lower its carbon footprint.
“I think I can speak on behalf of the partnership [between NZ Police and Skoda] when it comes to our common goal that we need to lower our carbon emissions in the NZ Police fleet,” he said. “Not only is this important for NZ Police’s accountability to meet government requirements and expectations, but it’s also our social responsibility.”
Yanko added that the “extreme demands of the police environment” pose a challenge when it comes to lowering emissions. “We both share a determination to advance our organisation with the latest vehicle technology, and to build our capability of low- to zero-carbon [emissions] vehicles.”
Speaking alongside Yanko at the event, Skoda New Zealand general manager Rodney Gillard confirmed that the Superb iV was not tendered as part of its proposal to replace Holden as the NZ Police’s primary vehicle supplier. This was due to the tender’s requirement that vehicles must be available in the 2021 calendar year, and at the time the iV was not slated for Kiwi shores.
Skoda’s local arm had an inkling that the model might come here, though, noting to the NZ Police that it might be on the horizon. “Since then we’ve been in discussions and negotiations around our access to [the Superb iV] at the earliest opportunity, so that we could assess its potential as a patrol vehicle,” Yanko said.
The iV now enters a three-phase test cycle with the NZ Police. First, the vehicle will be measured against key requirements through functionality testing. This will include reviewing things like driving performance, safety features, and ergonomics. It will also involve putting it through radio frequency testing, which is performed in an isolated room.
Phase two of testing is user testing. This will see the iV be handed to a variety of frontline NZ Police staff from numerous departments in order to generate honest feedback. The final phase is real-world testing, where the model will be fully kitted out and placed on the beat to be tested by police during day-to-day duties.
In order to get to phase three, Yanko says that models need to pass phases one and two with flying colours. These opening phases are said to take between two and four months to complete, meaning an announcement as to whether the iV will join the local police vehicle fleet should be expected before the end of the year.
Yanko says NZ Police are “hoping to move rapidly” with the Superb iV’s evaluation.
So far, 71 Skoda police cars have been delivered to police staff around the countries. It’s expected that between 350 and 400 will be delivered by the end of the year, with the aim of around 500 to 550 police vehicles to be supplied annually from 2022.
The iV could see itself become subject to vehicle characterisation, where some cars with distinctive specs are deployed to places where they would be more suited. In the iV’s case, this could see the plug-in be used in more urban areas; although the model’s outright petrol and electric range of over 900km means it should be versatile.