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November 15, 2021

Bulletproof cars: an $80M Mexican industry

Whether you’ve vacationed to the region and wandered off your resort’s grounds, heard about a particularly gruesome case or, heck, just seen Man On Fire, chances are you know Central and Latin America is rotten for crime.

1148594_bullet_3 And, usually, in a part of the globe where anyone with money is a direct target for kidnappings and burglaries, rarely is there a positive economic spin.

Maybe, though, if we have to find a silver lining in a situation where blood sometimes quite literally runs in the streets, this is it.

According to USA Today, there’s a new hot industry in Mexico, the country south of the U.S. most notorious for its violence: the bulletproof car biz.

Yes, it’s sad but true – according to estimates from the Mexican Association of Automobile Armorers, the nation’s bullet-proofing sector is now valued at $80 million per year.

Remarkably, bullet-proofing your car isn’t a new trade at all for the wealthy Mexican. Says USA Today, ever since 1994 – when billionaire banker Alfredo Harp Helu was kidnapped and freed on a $30 million ransom – many of the country’s affluent have had to take such measures with their vehicles.

But the boost in the overall bulletproof car sector hasn’t come from Mexico’s magnates or tycoons, rather the middle-class Mexican, who may fear for his safety now more than ever.

As if an “alarming” rate of carjackings and ransom abductions wasn’t enough (kidnappings are up more than 300 per cent over the past five years), USA Today notes more than 28,000 Mexicans have been killed in murders chalked up to drug cartel violence since 2006.

Twenty-eight thousand! By contrast, according to Stats Canada, there have only been 2,421 homicides of any kind across our nation from 2006-2009.

In Mexico, then, it’s become an issue of save yourself, even if it does break the bank. Modest vehicles like Hondas, small SUVs and pickup trucks are now commonly seen getting bullet-proofed by the country's car dealers, sometimes at a cost of up to $80,000 per vehicle.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...