Expanded packages for police and taxi fleet operators have been introduced by Ford, while Chevrolet and Checker recently unveiled their 1980 taxi offerings, most notably the first American-made diesel taxi from Checker.

Additional powertrain selections with improved fuel economy highlight the 1980 police and taxi offerings from Ford, according to A.L. Whiteman, the division's general fleet, leasing and rental manager.

"Our 1980 Ford LTD and Fairmont police and taxi packages have been specially designed and engineered to achieve excellent fuel economy under extreme day-to-day operating conditions," Whiteman said. LTD's engine lineup for police cruisers includes a new 5.8-liter HO (high-output) V8 engine, a 5.8-liter V8 and a 5.0-liter V8. The HO engine is certified by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) for speeds in excess of 110 mph and meets IACP braking, handling and acceleration requirements.

While Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings for the HO engine have not been released, the 5.0-liter V8 is rated at 17 mpg city cycle, and 24 mpg highway, and the 5.8-liter has received a city rating of 16 mpg and a highway average of 23 mpg.

The LTD's 5.8-liter police package includes a specially designed suspension system with heavy-duty springs, shock absorbers and stabilizer bars. Seats, wheels, tires, the cooling system and transmission are engineered specifically for police service.

The LTD's power front-disc brakes have semi-metallic linings designed for high-speed use with flared rear brake drums for better cooling under severe stopping conditions. Power steering is standard and includes an auxiliary power-steering oil cooler. Other 5.8-liter police-package equipment includes a 100-amp alternator, a heavy-duty battery, a heavy-duty radiator and fan, an external transmission-oil cooler and a heavy-duty frame. A similar police package is available for the 5.0-liter engine applications.

"Ford also offers police packages for its trim-size Fairmont with a 3.3 liter six-cylinder engine," Whiteman said. "Many police departments prefer Fairmont-size cruisers for city patrol work where in-traffic maneuverability is important."

Fairmont's 3.3-liter package includes a SelectShift automatic transmission, a 2.73 rear axle ratio, power steering with an auxiliary oil cooler, heavy-duty body structure with special reinforcements, and heavy-duty 14-inch wheels with radial-ply tires approved for police use. The EPA has rated the Fairmont 3.3-liter engine at 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.

Taxi-fleet applications of Ford's Fairmont and LTD are available in four-door models. The Ford LTD taxi package engines include the 5.0-liter V8 and the 5.8-liter V8. The LTD features more than 21 cubic feet of deep-well truck space and the standard taxi package includes heavy-duty brakes with semi-metallic front-disc linings and organic rear drum pads, heavy-duty seats, a heavy duty frame, roof wiring, remote-control decklid release, heavy-duty 15-inch wheels, and a taxi suspension including heavy-duty springs, shock absorbers, front and rear stabilizer bars and front upper-arm bushings.

An optional expanded taxi package includes the standard taxi equipment plus door-pull handles, a switch and indicator for roof lights and a door-ajar warning light. A special New York Taxi Package also is available and includes the standard and expanded taxi package features plus a taxi-identification label, rear seat belt stiffeners, wiring for exterior roof signals and rear door grip handles.

The 1980 Fairmont is also available in taxi trim and offers a 3.3-liter six-cylinder engine with a first-gear lockout automatic transmission and a 2.73 rear axle ratio.

Chevrolet chose the 61st annual convention and trade show sponsored by the International Taxicab Association to introduce its Impala and Malibu taxicab offerings. Over 700 leading taxicab operators and associates attended the show in Miami.

"These taxicabs have been well received by the nation's taxicab drivers, their passengers and most importantly, the taxicab fleet owners," Robert Lund, General Motors vice president and general manager of the Chevrolet Division, said. "For 1980, our taxicabs equipped with the new 229-cubic-inch V6 standard engine will offer marked advantages in gasoline mileage, operating economy and ease of maintenance," Lund said of the Chevrolet offerings.

The Impala and its mid-size counterpart, the Malibu, represent a "new wave" of domestic passenger vehicles specifically designed for the taxicab business, Lund said. Since the introduction of the re-sized Impala in 1977 and Malibu in 1978, Chevrolet estimates the taxicab business has expanded to some 40,000 new vehicles annually.

A key concern of taxicab owners is the operating cost of taxis on a per-mile basis. In a recent field survey, Lund said that "eighty 1977 Impala 9C6 taxicabs operating throughout 1978 and 1979 averaged per-mile cost savings of four and one-half cents better than the national fleet average for taxicab operation in the United States during the same period."

Lund said that the survey firm - the Yellow Cab Company of Indianapolis - realized labor costs of only .008345 cents per mile and replacement parts costs of only .00799 cents per mile (both figures less than one cent) for a combined total cost for parts and labor of only .0162 cents per mile. According to ITA figures, the national taxicab average cost for comparable labor and parts replacement amounted to .062 cents per mile.

"Based on a typical average of 60,000-mile annual vehicle usage, the Impala 9C6 cost an average of $960 a year for parts replacement and labor, while the national fleet average cab cost a projected $3,720 in parts replacement and labor costs - nearly four times as much as the Impala 9C6," Lund said. Yellow Cab of Indianapolis operates on a schedule of 30 months or 150,000 miles, and replaces vehicles at these intervals.

Special equipment on the Impala and Malibu 9C6 taxi package includes a heavy-duty frame, engine valve durability features, greater capacity oil filter on V8 models, front semi-metallic brake material on Impala and Malibu, rear semi-metallic brake material on Malibu, temperature controlled fans for models not equipped with air conditioning, larger radiator, special springs and shocks, higher gauge vinyl seats, rubber floor mats, and door-ajar warning lamp. Three speed automatic transmission, heavy-duty alternator, power steering and 4,000-watt battery must be ordered with taxi package. Checker Motors Corporation of Kalamazoo, Michigan has launched their 1980 model year with the first U.S.-made diesel taxicab, according to John S. Love, vice president of Checker. Featuring a 350 cubic-inch diesel engine, the new model is offered by Checker to those taxi-cab operators who want the efficiency, economy and simplicity of diesel-powered vehicles.

"Checker taxicabs, long known for dependability and performance, take on even greater significance in the uncertain fuel picture of the 1980s," Love said. "Taxicab operators, feeling the pinch of increased costs, can expect to get the additional miles per gallon with the diesel."

The new powerplant is mated to the familiar Checker design that features a rear floor that is virtually flat, large door openings for easy entry and exit, independent coil front suspension and chair-high seats for extra comfort and visibility for the driver. Three gasoline powerplants are available in addition to the diesel.