SEAT has won the fleet contract to supply new Leon cars to the Italian police.
The first 206 vehicles have already started being handed over, with an initial 106 service vehicles being delivered to the Carabinieri and a further 100 to the Polizia di Stato. Overall, the contract includes the option for up to 4,000 vehicles over the next three years. So far, they have taken orders for 925 cars, split between 475 'panthers' (Polizia di Stato) and 450 'gazelles' (Carabinieri).
This marks the first time that both police forces have tendered and selected the same brand and the same vehicle. SEAT says that major factors in the decision included the Leon‚Äôs low fuel consumption and emissions figures, as well as its high quality and excellent total cost of ownership.
"We are honoured by the trust given by the Italian police in SEAT and the Leon. And we are very proud to be able to contribute thanks to reliable, secure and high quality vehicles to public safety," says Jurgen Stackmann, Chairman of the Executive Committee of SEAT.
The new Italian police cars are based on the five-door Leon powered by the 150 PS version of the 2.0 TDI engine. The front end of the cars will be armoured against small arms fire and special safety tyres are fitted, with the suspension adapted to suit.
Warning and alarm lights, radio and communications equipment, weapons carriers and other items of equipment are also featured and the back seat is laid out as a secure 'prisoner cell', with police officers seated in the front protected by a dividing partition.
Extensive prototype tests were conducted with two vehicles codenamed 'gazelle' and 'panther', while comprehensive endurance testing assured the quality of the vehicles, which will face harsh and demanding conditions in day-to-day use. The armoured door, for instance, was opened and closed 100,000 times and the two vehicles were finally driven continuously for 30,000 kilometres, stopping only to refuel and relieve drivers.
The base vehicles are produced at the SEAT factory in Martorell near Barcelona, before being transferred to Chivasso, Italy for further adaptation at N.C.T. (Nuova Carrozzeria Torinese), the specialist firm that has converted most of the police cars in Italy since 2003.