Moscow Plays Host to Launch of Cars That Can Withstand AK-47 Fire
Updated Sept. 2, 2014 5:29 a.m. ET
At this year's Moscow motor show, BMW hopes to win over security-conscious customers with the armored version of its X5 sport-utility vehicle which it says is AK-47-proof. WSJ's Dipti Kapadia has the details on the X5 security plus. Photo: BMW
Murders and kidnappings are less common than they used to be in Russia, as United Nations data have it, but Moscow is still where the world's top auto makers prefer to show off their latest bulletproof cars.
At this year's motor show in the Russian capital, it is Germany's BMW AGBMW.XE +3.84% that is hoping to win over well-heeled, security-conscious customers with an armored version of its X5 sport-utility vehicle which it describes as AK-47-proof.
BMW said it has installed special steel and reinforced, shatterproof glass for the X5's passenger compartment to provide "secure protection against assault from the world's most popular firearm, the AK-47."
An eight-cylinder, turbocharged engine generating 450 horsepower that drives all four wheels means the vehicle can be "maneuvered safely on and off road," BMW said. "Sometimes a hasty retreat is the best form of defense."
The X5 Security and X5 Security Plus are the latest editions to BMW's range of security-enhanced vehicles, which include versions of its BMW 7-series and Rolls-Royce limousines.
Germany's other luxury auto makers are also in the security business. Daimler AGDAI.XE +2.62% and Volkswagen AG VOW3.XE +2.04% make armored versions of their Mercedes-Benz and Audi cars, respectively. The Sentinel range of limousines and SUVs made by Jaguar Land Rover, the U.K. luxury-car unit of India's Tata Motors Co.500570.BY +1.02% , also claim to offer AK-47 protection for passengers.
Like BMW, Jaguar Land Rover aims to ensure its armored vehicles are barely distinguishable from regular models so as not to draw the attention of potential assassins and kidnappers.
But driving a bulletproof car with a reinforced fuel tank and radiator, Kevlar flooring, and run-flat tires comes at a cost.
BMW's armored vehicles cost two to four times the price of a regular model. That's likely to set a customer back $120,000 or more for the X5 Security Plus or around $300,000 for a bulletproof 7-series.
For some customers, the less expensive option remains buying the limousine or SUV of your choice off the shelf and getting a specialist outfitter, like International Armoring Corp. or Texas Armoring Corp., to customize it separately. Texas Armoring's website has graphic descriptions of occupants of armored Chevrolet Suburbans which it supplied surviving blasts from roadside improvised explosive devices in Iraq.
Write to Matthew Curtin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Corrections & Amplifications
BMW's armored vehicles cost two to four times the price of a regular model. That's likely to set a customer back $120,000 or more for the X5 Security Plus or around $300,000 for a bulletproof 7-series. An earlier version of this article misstated the price range as three to four times and the approximate price of an armored X5 Security Plus as $180,000.