SC Highway Patrol switching to Ford F-150s after using Dodge Chargers for years. Here’s why

The South Carolina Highway Patrol will buy 35 Ford F-150 trucks this year, replacing gas-powered Charger cruisers that Dodge phased out last year.

The Charger was an iconic police sedan — and the last remaining among American automakers. The gas-powered Challenger was also discontinued in 2023 as Dodge develops an electric muscle car.

The Highway Patrol was notified during the pandemic that the Charger would no longer be available, said Kyle McGahee, a spokesman for the SC Department of Public Safety, which includes the Highway Patrol.

“Although the agency was later notified of plans to extend the production date of those vehicles for another year, we had already put a contingency plan in place to purchase more Ford vehicles,” he said in an email.

The agency has used Ford Police Interceptor Utilities, also known to consumers as Ford Explorers, for years as pursuit vehicles.

“Effective fleet vehicle management is something that must be planned out in a strategic manner because of manufacturer production times and then on-site build-out time for technology to ensure the vehicle becomes the trooper or officer’s mobile office,” McGahee said.

He said there are limited pursuit-rated vehicles on the market. They turned to the F-150.

This year, five trucks will be assigned to each troop, he said.

On its website, Ford says the 2024 F-150 police responder pickup is the first pursuit truck, equipped with 270-degree vision with a blind spot information system, steel wheels and all terrain rubber tires. The truck has a feature known as Police Engine Idle, which locks an idling vehicle when a key is not present and the officer needs to “swiftly take care of business.”

It also can be modified to go into dark-car mode for stealth purposes.

Ford says the trucks cost about $55,340 each. They have a top speed of 120 mph with a turbocharged 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine that produces 400 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque.

The benefit of having trucks in the fleet is for off-road needs, such as beaches, forests and mountains and in the event of flooding. They can also be used to tow other vehicles.

McGahee said the Department of Public Safety has about 1,000 law enforcement vehicles between three law enforcement divisions — South Carolina Highway Patrol, Bureau of Protective Services and State Transport Police.

“This is a very small percentage of our fleet,” he said. “The majority of our fleet will remain Ford Police Interceptor Vehicles (Explorers) and Dodge Chargers. Of course, those will eventually phase out as part of our standard vehicle replacement process.”