He said Volvo has been in the police car business in Scandinavian and other European countries for 30 years and now wants to move into the U.S. market. Other Volvos are being tested by the highway patrols in Arizona and Oklahoma, Cook said.
Helmick said if the CHP decides to switch from an American brand to the Swedish car, he would voluntarily seek approval of the Legislature.
"I'd go back to the Legislature because the Volvo is built overseas," he said.
California's "Buy American" law for state government was ruled unconstitutional in 1983. In recent years, the CHP has purchased motorcycles made by Japanese and German companies.
Helmick said there still may be some sentiment in the Legislature to remain with American brand patrol cars.
One member, Assemblyman Richard Floyd (D-Wilmington), an ally of organized labor, said he opposes even the testing of Volvos.
"We make enough nice automobiles in this country. We don't have to test some foreign car," Floyd said. "Buy American. Stick with the right thing."
But Volvo's Cook countered: "Now that we are a part of Ford, we are a U.S. company. . . . We are just as much apple pie as Ford is now."