Expat Kidnaps Trigger Rush For Bullet Proof Cars

Corporate executives, expats the wealthy and government officials are rushing to buy bullet-proof cars due to fears over kidnap and political unrest.

Engineers are flooded with demands to strip down new and second hand cars to install protective plating along with bullet proof glass and run-flat tyres.

The demand is fuelled by the social unrest seen across North Africa and has led to a sharp uptake of rich expats and government officials demanding extra protection.

The production of armoured vehicles is dominated by three companies: UK based Jankel, Transeco from Germany and Canadian firm INKAS.

A a new entrant to the business, Ares Security Vehicles, which started in 2010 claims to have a bulging order book for ultra-protected vehicles.

Strong demand

Armour-plated vehicles are not just wanted in the Middle East in countries, like Iraq and Libya, but also in various other hotspots around the world.

There is also strong demand from Russia.

The number of sales is difficult to gauge as companies in the sector like to keep their customer lists secret, but there is a growing demand for limousines and SUVs which have been protected against bullets and grenades.

Some major car makers construct their own armoured versions of some of their best known models which are indistinguishable from the mainstream version to the untrained eye.

Some of the firms involved are Land Rover, BMW and Mercedes Benz.

There’s no doubt that these firms charge a hefty premium for their conversations, but there is also a healthy market in the trade of second hand armoured cars.

Soaring demand

Firms doing well in this market are those who are simply adding plating to a vehicle’s exterior, as this is a much cheaper option than stripping down and rebuilding.

Perhaps the best known armoured car is the one used by the US President, Barack Obama.

Known as ‘the Beast’ by the US Secret Service and weighing several tons, the car comes with an arsenal of weaponry

Few buyers will want to purchase anything like the President’s car, though industry analysts say they are surprised by the scale of demand.

Jon Hawkes, a senior analyst for military vehicles at the publication IHS Jane’s, says: “It’s a murky market and it’s hard to get any exact figures, but companies are talking about a 30% to 40% increase in sales in the last four or five years.”

Prices for the converted vehicles are rarely bandied about, but experts say an armoured Toyota Land Cruiser would cost a buyer around £100,000 – which is three times the normal second hand price.

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