José Eduardo Llanos
President
Global Armor
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View from the Top

Fear and Money: Ingredients to Armor a Vehicle

By Alejandro Enríquez | Wed, 05/27/2020 - 17:39

Q: How has the automotive armoring industry grown in recent years?

A: In 2006, during the Felipe Calderón administration, the industry grew considerably. From 2010 to 2015 it remained stable and then it began growing again. However, the numbers are not that significant, considering that we closed 2019 with around 3,000 to 3,300 armored vehicles. Our clients are the same people who for years have bought luxury vehicles. Our potential client pool in Mexico has not increased, which is why the market has not grown very much.

We also face a cultural challenge, which is that Mexicans do not invest in protection, whether it is in health, retirement or housing matters. However, people should be aware that armored cars are a less attractive target for a robbery or an assault. Almost 99.9 percent of the cars in the country are not armored, which means there are many options for a perpetrator to go after. 

To buy an armored car, two things are needed: fear and money. There are many people with fear but not enough money and people with money but not enough fear. The most vulnerable moment for a person is their journey to and from work. However, if drivers have the opportunity to get into an armored steel box during their commute, they will be as safe as they are at work or at home.

Q: How have you grown your participation in such a small market?

A: OEMs do not have enough experience in armoring cars. However, once we reconstruct the vehicle to make it safer, the owner is “orphaned” because the car loses its original OEM warranty. In that moment, we take care of the aftersales service of the vehicle to ensure our clients are satisfied and protected.

A great deal of competition has appeared. However, armoring a car properly is not easy and it is getting more complicated. Before, vehicles were purely made of steel but today they are made of aluminum and have plastic parts. The hinge where we hung the structure is now made of a lighter material to increase fuel-efficiency. Cars also have many components, such as sensors, fiber optics, traction controls and speed sensors, as well as passive and active security systems. Our job is to ensure that all components remain operational after the armoring process. 

Q: How does Global Armor adapt to customers’ needs?

A: Eighty-five percent of our market in Mexico City requires armoring against short weapons, which means everything that can be used with one hand. We suggest clients use this level for day-to-day problems, as long as they are not a target for kidnapping or persecution. We always try to get people to strictly buy what is necessary. Usually, the highest levels of security are needed outside metropolitan areas. 

Q: What is the objective of the Mexican Association of Automotive Armorers (AMBA)?

A: We founded AMBA and I have been its president for three consecutive periods. This association seeks quality and ethics in armoring. When a person buys an armored car, it is an act of faith. There are eight companies in the association and we always ensure that the materials we use are certified and that our installation practices are appropriate to preserve the integrity of the car.

Q: How long does the armoring procedure take with Global Armor?

A: As part of the Indumil Group, we have a glass factory, so we are vertically integrated. The most critical input is glass, which can significantly advance or delay the process that normally takes between four and six weeks. Hybrid cars are the most complex to armor at the moment because they need to be sent to the dealership to disconnect the combustion and electric motors. We have learned to do this but if not done right, the electric module can burn up, which can cost up to MX$40,000 (US$2,100) to fix. 

Q: What are the most significant challenges for Global Armor?

A: We want to improve our aftersales service exponentially and adapt our armoring systems to new vehicle technologies. Cars are now very delicate and over the years the entire industry will reduce weight. However, we are already prepared. Previousl, level III armor added 400kg to the car while now it only adds 200kg. We also plan to focus on the transportation segment since insecurity and theft have increased exponentially, leading to higher insurance premiums for unarmored units. 

 

Global Armor offers armoring solutions for premium automotive brands, police vehicles, freight and securities transportation. The company has extensive experience in the market offering armoring levels II to VI.

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst