Features
28 sep 17

Bulletproof cars in Brazil

With approximately 160,000 bulletproof vehicles already on the streets and demand on the rise, Brazil rules the roost when it comes to national armored vehicle fleets throughout the world.

Due to car thefts and related crime, demand has been rising in the last few years, especially in cities like Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Pernambuco state capital Recife.

In Rio de Janeiro, 2017 internet data has shown that searches for bulletproof cars have increased by about 12% year-over-year, and the demand for these vehicles throughout the country should increase by nearly 20% by the end of the year.

Revenue for the bulletproofing industry has also increased this year, with 1H17 sales up 16% from the first six months of 2016.

Despite the trend, fleet managers must consider all aspects before planning on a bulletproof fleet.

Process

"For the opaque surfaces, we use a nine-layer skin made up of aramid and stainless steel. For the transparent parts, we use curved ballistic glass which protects our clients from pistols and submachine guns," says Rio de Janeiro bulletproofing expert Rodrigo Pereira.

The 170-200 kilogram weight of the armor must be considered before modifying a vehicle so a motor generating at least 115hp is required. The more horsepower, the less you will feel the weight of the armor.

The process takes approximately 35 working days. Once completed, a final inspection will be carried out by the local traffic department Detran.

Demand

In terms of Brazil's largest city São Paulo, the most common profile of those using a bulletproof car are men from 30-39 years old and women from 40-49 years old. Many of them are executives who are married with children less than 18 years of age. 

They also have a garage at their home residence as well as at their place of work and they live and travel in and around the central areas of the city.

There is also a steady demand for bulletproofing for residents in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Pernambuco state capital Recife.

Cost

The cost of shielding a vehicle varies. However, the maximum allowed by law for a common passenger vehicle is type III which can withstand shots from caliber 22, 38, 44, 357, and 9mm. 

Costing from 50,000-75,000 reais (US$16,000-24,000), this is the most sought-after level of protection in Brazil right now. One feature of a vehicle which could bump up the price quite a bit is armoring a sunroof which could cost more than 9,000 reais.

More impregnable types of protection do exist such as those able to withstand grenades and other weapons but these are not permitted for the average citizen.

Besides the cost of the actual shielding, those wanting to own or drive a bulletproof automobile will also face the cost of bureaucracy which includes a criminal record check and fees of which could reach some 1,000 reais.

One of the country's newest regulatory changes will require the owners of armored cars to have a "Certificado de Registro" (registration certificate). 

To be issued through Brazil's new armored vehicle control system, Sicovab, it will require filling out forms and handing in documents regarding federal, military, and criminal records. The process to acquire the three-year certificate will take 30 days and cost 100 reais.

Hiring a person to take care of the documentation for you could increase cost to some 850 reais for individuals and 1,250 reais for companies. Bulletproofing multiple vehicles will be permitted with a single certificate.

Insurance

Unlike security measures such as car alarms which could reduce the cost of vehicle insurance, bulletproof vehicles are actually more expensive to insure in Brazil, especially for women drivers.

Considering the two of the most common bulletproof automobiles in the country, The Toyota Corolla and the Volkswagen Tiguan, insurance for men increases 1,050 reais/y on average and approximately 1,300 reais/y for women.

While annual insurance for the Corolla increases 800 reais on average for men to 4,600 reais and 1,100 for women to 4,500 reais, insurance for the Tiguan jumps 1,300 reais for men to 6,600 reais and 1,500 reais for women to 6,300 reais.

A 2017 model in Brazil with 0km starts at approximately 80,000 reais for a Corolla and 119,000 for a Tiguan.

Other vehicles commonly being armored in Brazil are the Volkswagen Jetta, the Volvo XC60, and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque.

Regardless of which car or cars you are considering to bulletproof to help protect your fleet and employees, make sure you weigh out all the pros and cons before deciding to do so.

Authored by: Daniel Bland