As a police officer in Coppell, Texas, Stacy Dean Stephens was bothered by the lack of a purpose-built patrol car. Firefighters, postal workers, emergency medical personnel — even garbage collectors — use vehicles created specifically for the task, while police departments make do with warmed-over passenger cars that have law enforcement equipment added on.

That creates a potential safety hazard, according to Stephens. Add the gear that officers must wear as part of their uniform, and riding in a patrol car with standard passenger seats also can be rather uncomfortable during a long patrol shift.

With all of this in mind, Stephens founded Carbon Motors to bring his vision of a purpose-built police car to market. The company’s E7 prototype is already generating interest within the community. Police departments in all 50 states have collectively reserved about 16,190 vehicles. Each car will come equipped to an agency’s exact specifications, including custom technology and emergency lighting packages preinstalled.

“We’re providing the municipalities with a much safer vehicle for their officers to utilize,” Stephens said. “That in turn has an effect on the citizens for a number of different reasons, because now you have officers who are better equipped to provide for the safety of the community.”

The first vehicles are scheduled to roll off Carbon Motors’ assembly line in 2013 and are expected to be competitively priced with current police cars, taking into account the aftermarket installation of components.

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