How Skoda is taking over the world's police fleets
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While the choice of the Skoda Superb as Prime 1 patrol car for the New Zealand Police might have come as a surprise to many when it was announced last year, the Czech brand has in fact been regular supplier of police fleet vehicles in many countries for over two decades.
But the factory is further upping its efforts in this area (going all out to secure the Kiwi contract was partly evidence of that). Its cars are on police fleets all over the world - not all single-brand contracts as in NZ, but still a strong presence. Check these out (and take a look at the video above).
The home team: Czech Republic
Surprise, surprise: Skoda supplies police vehicles in its home market. It's delivered more than 20,000 since 1993.
The mainstay is the third-generation Octavia, which is fitted with a special tubular frame up front (we might call it a bull bar) to protect the car and crew during car chases, especially in the PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) manoeuvre.
The Czech police have also started using Kodiaqs and the Superb wagon, which is fitted with a camera system for reading registration plates of cars ahead and behind.
The police force in the capital city of Yerevan has just chosen the Octavia as its front-line patrol car for the first time.
Skodas have been used by Austrian police since 2006. The Octavia 4x4 and Kodiaq AWD make up most of the fleet of around 1200.
Other Octavias and Superbs serve as civilian vehicles. Police acquire the cars on three-to-four-year leases – so one important factor is that the police equipment is installed “non-invasively” and can be easily removed without trace.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Sarajevo police force got its first Octavias in 2018 and now runs 100 of the model.
The Bulgarian police force is thinking smaller with 344 Rapids on its fleet. They don't have any special modifications, although they are fitted with (factory) battery and alternator upgrades.
There are 180 Skoda police cars and 32 in "civilian" duty, mostly Octavia and Superb. Local companies are contracted to equip them.
Several hundred Skoda police cars have entered service in the past 18 years. Georgian officers also recently took delivery of 80 new-generation Octavia models, and four new Scala hatchbacks.
On the Apennine peninsula there are several hundred police Octavias and Superbs. Some of the interesting features include a submachine gun compartment between the front and rear seats, a special equipment organiser in the boot and advanced communications/GPS technology.
Several hundred Octavias and Superbs have been in the service of the Israeli police during the past five years, both as patrol and unmarked cars.
In Latvia the police drive 52 Octavias and 37 Superbs, all of them used as unmarked vehicles for traffic control.
Lithuanian police officers have been driving Škodas since 2008: currently around 200 Octavia, Yeti and Superb models.
Over 2500 Octavias and Scalas with special sound and light signalling equipment are on Serbian roads.
The Spanish police have been using Octavias and Karoqs since 2018.
Rapid, Octavia, Superb and Kodiaq models are used on Ukrainian roads. The Ukrainian police have taken delivery of over 1200 Skoda police cars over the past three years.
The British police force has recently taken delivery of the Enyaq iV Battery Electric Vehicle. But the main Skoda fleet is still Octavia RS, Superb and Kodiaq, with special dog-transport package. The "dog boxes" are individually air conditioned and can be controlled from the cabin.
The Superbs being introduced to the NZ police need no introduction, of course. According to the factory there are 355 vehicles heading our way this year, with a further 450-500 annually over the coming four years.
There are 162kW FWD and 206kW AWD wagons, with the Superb iV PHEV also currently under evaluation.