South Africans can bulletproof their cars by installing armour for windows, doors, and rear seats, which will cost anywhere between R200,000 and R1.5 million depending on the level of protection.
Bulletproof vehicles are a necessity for transporting cash in South Africa because of the high incidents of cash-in-transit heists.
Private companies transporting valuable items like smartphones and cigarettes are also using armoured cars to protect against hijackers.
The use of bulletproof cars is now gaining momentum among rich individuals who want to feel safe amidst the high number of armed hijackings in the country.
These individuals typically stay in security estates to protect them against house invasions, and they want to extend this projection to their cars when they leave the estate.
It is, however, an expensive and resource intensive process to bulletproof standard vehicles like SUVs or luxury sedans.
Speaking to ENCA, CVI Engineering director Jaco de Kock said they import special materials from across the world to create a bulletproof car.
“Glass is imported from South America, the steel is manufactured in Sweden, while the composite materials come from different parts of the world,” he said.
The bullet-resistant transparent armour glass is made by Panama-based firm Optima Ballistic Glass.
This bulletproof glass contains multiple layers of leaded glass and sheets of polycarbonate.
Most civilian vehicles are protected at two specifications:
- B4, which protects against handguns up to the .44 Magnum.
- B6, which protects against high-powered rifles like the R5 and AK47.
The equipment used for the modifications to create a bulletproof car differs significantly based on the level of protection.
The photos below show the difference between the B4 and B6 ballistic glass.
De Kock said on the low-end people can expect to pay around R200,000 while more serious protection can cost around R1 million.
This is, however, only part of the cost. The vehicles also have to be altered to cope with the additional weight of bulletproof glass and armour plating.
Up to a ton of material can be fitted to a vehicle which require suspension upgrades, improved brakes, and structural modifications.
Armormax managing director, Grant Anderson said motorists looking for a comprehensive B4 protection upgrade can expect to pay an all-inclusive price from around R580,000.
The price of level B6 protection, he said, increases to R1.5 million with armouring of windows, doors, pillars, floor, roof, and making vehicle structural modifications.
The most popular vehicles which are modified are double cab bakkies and luxury SUVs for corporate clients.
After the vehicle is converted into an armoured car it still looks like a standard bakkie or SUV, but with additional protection.
For those who do not want to go through the process of having their car modified, there is also the option to buy a bulletproof car. It is, however, not cheap.
MMI Armoured Cars are offering new and used armoured cars with prices ranging between R649,990 and R3,199,990.
For R649,990 you will get a 2017 Infiniti Q502.0T with 57,500km on the clock and level B4 protection.
The price for a second-hand 2016 Infiniti QX70 5.0 S SUV with 35,500km on the clock and level B4 protection is R999,990.
On the high-end of the B4 protection scale a new 2021 BMW X5 xDrive 50i is advertised for R2,799,990.
Those looking for level B6 protection should be prepared to pay a lot more.
A new 2021 Nissan Patrol 5.6 V8 LE with level B6 protection costs R3,199,990, while a 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser 200 with the same protection costs R3,299,990.