Yesterday I had the opportunity to see the future of law enforcement vehicles. And it’s pretty cool.
No. It’s way beyond cool.
The coolness was on display down at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center in a public event that, well, really wasn’t publicized all that well. I happened to hear about it from my good friends over at the Creative Coast, and being into cool stuff, went down to check it out.
Straight off the company executives made a big point about how no one would be allowed to touch the car, which seemed kind of strange to me. I mean granted they don’t want some doofus breaking the $5 million prototype that they are staking the future of their entire company on. But shouldn’t a police car be at least somewhat doofusproof?
Of course they then proceeded to parade any law enforcement personnel that wanted a closer look through a tour of the interior, pushing all the buttons and touching whatever the heck they wanted.
That part I get. All the police officers had guns. You walk up to my car with a gun and I’ll probably let you sit in the driver’s seat too. Touch whatever you want. And I’ll smile while you’re doing it, just like they did.
I briefly thought that perhaps I should have brought my Glock stuffed down the back of my shorts like Magnum used to do. Though somehow I don’t think that would have gone over so well in a room full of police officers.
I took my pictures from a distance. But I digress.
The car is a prototype built by Carbon Motors. They’re a start-up car manufacturer that is looking to build their E7, which has been especially designed for law enforcement from the ground up.
It makes sense when you think about it. Right now, to get a police car they start with a car that was built for the comfort of folks like you and me (and I do like my comforts) like a Crown Victoria, for example. Then they add everything from light bars to more powerful brakes and extra electronics as well as tear out things that aren’t needed. (Want to keep a suspect from opening the rear door during transport and escaping? Ditch the door handle.)
Instead, Carbon Motors has started from the ground up with a specialty law enforcement vehicle. With the E7 there’s no need to pay for things like normal brakes that are only going to be removed and thrown away to make room for more powerful (and more expensive) brakes. The emergency lighting is built conformally into the body so that there isn’t extra drag (which means gives the E7 improved fuel economy) or holes drilled through the roof (reducing corrosion start points on the E7).
They’ve managed to engineer a car that beats most of the current popular police vehicles in both performance and in fuel efficiency. And they did it with a 300 horse power diesel engine.
And when you get inside it gets even more cooler. Poor grammar I know, but it’s true.
First thing a geeky guy like me notices on the inside is the huge electronic display console on the dashboard and between the front seats. Imagine a laptop sized iPhone planted where your car stereo is and you begin to get the idea.
That touch screen display can pull up all kinds of policely information. For example, there are external cameras on the car that recognize license plates (we call them “tags” down here) and the car can pull up the info on the car associated with that plate (tag?) with just a touch.
But it gets better. Suppose the officer is in hot puruit of the vehicle. Looking away from his driving to find the spot on the screen to touch could be dangerous, right? Well the E7 has built in voice recognition commands so the officer can shout out police speak for “tell me the scoop on this car I’m chasing” and the car will pull up the info, without even needing a touch.
It gets even better, though. That’s the active mode. There’s also a passive mode for the plate/tag recognition. The car can be set to record all the tags it comes across while on patrol.
So say there’s a bank robbery and some sharp eyed bystander notes the registration of the get away car. And let’s further suppose that your city has a whole fleet of E7’s on the street. If any car spots that tag it can alert the officer, “Bank robbers dead ahead.”
Or maybe there’s an Amber Alert. If they know the registration of the vehicle involved in the abduction, police departments can go back through the patrol records of the cars looking for that tag. By piecing together where the E7’s were when they saw the suspect car the police can get a good idea where it is going and track down the suspect. Did I mention that the video is synced with GPS and map data? Think Google Street View, but much closer to real time.
Look out bad guys. Big Brother is going to be watching!
Marketing the E7
So besides totally maxing out the coolness scale, how does this have anything at all to do with SuccessCREEations?
Well I think the good folks at Carbon Motors can improve how they are getting the word out about their very practical purpose built (and very cool) law enforcement vehicle. Getting more exposure would likely attract more potential investors and potential orders at the same time.
From a brief conversation I had with one of the Carbon Motors executives, their entire focus has been in getting the vehicle in front of the law enforcement community. From the turn out at the room, which I’m guessing was at least 90% law enforcement, that part is working.
However there was very little attention paid to the event by the local media. The local paper had a 539 word write up and one of the local TV stations mentioned it on their web site with only 200 words!
Especially when you consider that Savannah is lobbying hard to entice Carbon Motors to locate their manufacturing plant here that complete lack of local press coverage is unbelievable. Even combining those two press mentions with the article in the Creative Coast that I mentioned at the top of this post and my blog post here more than doubles the coverage of the event in Savannah yesterday.
Hitting Social Media
If I had any influence with the folks at Carbon Motors, and since I don’t carry a side arm I really don’t, but if I did I would encourage them to add a social media component to their marketing efforts.
Winning over law enforcement is a good idea. But reaching the law enforcement community shouldn’t come at the cost of ignoring the general population. Voters can influence budgets and purchasing decisions to some extent. Politicians who make budget decisions are keen to keep their voting constituents happy.
And if a sizable portion of them are hollering that the current patrol cars aren’t as safe or cost effective and E7’s should be phased in, the politicians will respond accordingly.
They have a blog. Can you say boring?!
It’s obviously written by an executive. OK. That can be a good thing. Someone at the top of the company is interested in getting their message out.
The trouble is the blog is all about the different locations that are trying to become home to their manufacturing plant. Sure, that’s something that is incredibly important to the company. But no one else cares! That stuff isn’t going to attract any attention. At least not any positive attention.
Get someone to blog about the car!
Talk about it’s overwhelming coolness. Explain with enthusiasm how much better and safer and cost effective your purpose built car is over existing modified civilian vehicles.
Talk about the cool places the car is visiting on your tour. Savannah is a cool place. Tell people about it as a backdrop for your car. Show your car in their cities so that people can see your car as a critical part of their local police force.
The E7 oozes coolness, with the conforming light panels flashing, Television would eat it up. Get it on the local news programs. People would start talking about it.
Get on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Encourage people to participate. Did you know I was on Twitter telling folks about your car? From the Event. I posted photos of your car on Flickr.
Hire someone who loves cars to blog about your incredibly cool machine. But make sure he’s got a little doofus in him. The last thing you want is more boring blog posts.
The reason Top Gear is the single most watched TV program in the world is because the hosts are NOT car experts. In fact they often tread deep into doofus territory. They are sure are entertaining, though.
And that’s what your blog needs. They say “facts tell and stories sell”. Don’t let your blog get buried in boring facts.
Because the bottom line is, our police departments need your car. I’d like to see you build it here in Savannah. And hire an entertaining doofus to blog about it.