NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City’s finest will soon be saving gas while chasing bad guys.

The NYPD is among the first in the country to get brand new hybrid cruisers, designed specifically as police cars, CBS2’s Kris Van Cleave reported Sunday.

On Sunday morning, Van Cleave went behind the wheel of one of the newest cruisers. The Police Department aims to have all 10,000 of its vehicles become electric or hybrid within five years.

As Van Cleave found out, it sure sounds like your typical police car and it drives like one, too. But the Ford Fusion-based police responder sedan could be a game changer. It’s the first true hybrid built specifically to be a police car. Ford estimates it’ll save more than 1,500 gallons of fuel per car per year.

“We’re hoping to phase out all of our purely internal combustion engine vehicles that we have on the road today,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Robert Martinez said.

(Photo: CBS2)

Over the next five years that will reduce emissions and cut fuel costs. Right now, the NYPD spends about $15 million a year on gas for its vehicles.

Helping Van Cleave was long time NYPD driving instructor Det. Paul Cacioppo. Whipping around the department’s training track in Brooklyn, he showed CBS2 what this hybrid can do.

When told police officers drive a car a little bit harder than your average driver, Cacioppo said, “Absolutely. This is not gonna be the standard car that mom and dad would pick up for a grocery-getter.”

Turning the black and white — or in New York the blue and white — green has taken a decade. The NYPD started testing retrofitted civilian hybrids in 2009. They improved fuel economy by two thirds over a gas-powered cruiser.

So was it even on Ford’s radar that people would want a hybrid police car?

“No. That was something that kinda had me thinking outside the box,” Martinez said.

So out of the box no automaker was thinking about it, until Martinez pushed for it.

When asked how long it took him to sell Ford on building a hybrid police car, Martinez said, “It probably took two to three years before I really thought they took us serious, and it took them probably four years to really develop it and produce it.”

Stephen Tyler is the marketing manager for Ford’s police business. He said the just-introduced hybrid police Interceptor SUV is faster and more fuel efficient than the gas-powered model it’s replacing.

“All the tail pipe emissions are reduced because the engine is shutting off for extended periods of time,” Tyler said.

The bulk of its fuel savings come during the five hours Ford estimates a police car spends idling nearly during a typical eight-hour shift. The electric motor on the hybrid allows the gas engine to turn off, saving more than 900 gallons a year per cruiser.

A new optional feature on the Interceptor will alert the officers if someone come up from behind them. It’ll automatically roll up the windows, lock the doors, and warn the officers.

The NYPD will get it first hybrid SUVs this fall and plans to buy hundreds of the hybrid responder sedan.

Officer Marcos Rudon was one of the first of the finest to drive the new SUVs. Asked if fellow cops were skeptical a hybrid could perform as needed, Rudon said, “When they hear hybrid, they think of a Prius. But this is not the case with this car.

“I was skeptical at first, too, until I actually got my hands on it, and I was blown away.”

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