Research by American Glass Products, a bullet-proof glass producer, shows that Brazil had the dubious distinction of leading the world in armoured vehicle sales in 2000, writes Rogério Louro Alves. Armour companies last year sold 4,000 vehicles in Brazil, ahead of Mexico (2,200), the United States (1,800) and Colombia (1,600).

The Brazilian armored vehicle market increased by 33 percent from the 3,000 vehicles sold a year earlier.

The growth of armoured car sales in Brazil in the last few years has seen the number of vehicle armour companies rise from four at the beginning of 1999 to 45 by the end of 2000. Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Fiat and Volvo also sell armored cars in the South America country.

“Brazil and Mexico are our best armoured car markets in the world”, said Celso Fogaça, product manager of BMW of Brazil. In 2000 alone, his company sold 61 armoured 540 Protection models.

But it’s not just luxury cars, like BMW and Audi, that are sold with armour in Brazil.

“Actually, 45 percent of the armoured vehicles sold are mid-size models, like the GM Vectra, Fiat Marea, and VW Passat and Golf”, said Vivian Gorgati, commercial director of AGP.

The armour companies are anticipating a larger market.

“We expect that armoured vehicle sales will rise 20 percent per year in Brazil in the next few years”, said Amaury Belmont, director of O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt.