By Jeff Sanford
Toronto, Ontario — July 9, 2015 — A recent media report notes that the global armoured-car industry is experiencing double-digit annual growth. In Central and South America drug trafficking, violent crime and decaying economies are driving huge interest in armoured vehicles. Venezuela is in economic meltdown. There, the armoured car industry is growing at an “extraordinarily rapid” 90 percent annually. In Mexico, according to the Mexican Automotive Armor Association, the industry grew five percent last year.
The report goes on to suggest that while the industry has typically sold to “government authorities, business owners and executives,” the next step is “to reach the housewives.”
Turns out, Canada has an armored car industry too. Is customization of cars to be bulletproof an overlooked business niche for auto centres? This is a unique business niche. And while clients are typically far from Canada, today, this country is home to a growing armoured car industry. There are now several manufacturers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Another armoured carmaker, Streit Manufacturing, has just announced a new factory in the Barrie region.
In the GTA, INKAS Armored Vehicles offers bulletproof SUVs made from trucks like the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Chevrolet Suburban and Lexus LX570. Bulletproof luxury sedans are created from cars like the Mercedes S-class, BMW 7-series, Lexus LX-series and Toyota Camry. The company can then send a car to any of the world’s “major seaports” in a 20 or 40-foot shipping container. According to promotional material from the company, INKAS is producing, “some of the most durable, dependable, and luxurious armoured vehicles on the planet.”
Another GTA company, Conquest Vehicles, also builds and ships armoured cars to well-off clients around the world. Conquest specializes in the design and manufacture of what the company calls, “ultra-luxurious, fully armoured, ‘handcrafted’ sport utility vehicles.”
The KNIGHT XV is the company’s first “ultra-luxurious, fully armored, environmentally-respectful” SUV. The company can customize vehicles with various levels of armour based on client need.
Another company, Streit Manufacturing recently announced it is building a new manufacturing facility in Barrie that will employ 40 people. The company provides “bespoke luxury and security vehicles” to a wide array of customers. The company tends toward heavier, military-grade vehicles. But Streit also just announced a new armoured ATV for Middle East and African markets.
EXEC ARMOR is another GTA-located company that armours SUVs and sedans. The company can harden a vehicle against anything from an attack by someone wielding a handgun to an attack from a high-powered rifle with armour piercing bullets. There are a couple of numbered companies that do this work, as well as companies like Armet Armored Vehicles Canada, Cambli International and Yalos.
In general, modifying a vehicle to resist attack involves any or all of the following:
▪ Reinforcing entire roof area with ballistic plate contoured to the shape of the roof
▪ Removing original glass and replacing it with multi-layered ballistic glass
▪ Sealing the fuel tank and armouring it
▪ Armouring battery and computer
▪ Install run flat tires
▪ Install armoured bulkhead swing door behind original door
▪ Firewall armoured throughout
▪ Reinforce door hinges
▪ Armour floor throughout to protect against grenade blasts
▪ Armour front fenders to protect against side impact bullets
▪ Armour the radiator