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BMW introduces $88,000 bulletproof car

bulletproof BMW April 20, 1998
Web posted at: 9:34 p.m. EDT (0134 GMT)

From CNNfn Correspondent Steve Young

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Personal security is a growing concern for Americans, as corporate leaders, entertainers and ordinary citizens become victims of violence. Now, German automaker BMW is stepping up with a solution.

The company has introduced the BMW 540i Protection car, a bulletproof luxury sedan built on the regular assembly line. The price tag is $88,000, but that's competitive with many non-armored luxury cars.

"There was demand for a light protection vehicle, a light armored vehicle, so that people that were always in the public eye would go out and feel that they had a good measure of security wherever they were," said James McDowell, vice president of marketing at BMW of North America.

The car, on display at the New York Auto Show, features bullet-resistant glass and bullet-resistant fiber behind the sheet metal. Options include tires that work even when flat and a public address system that lets the driver and passengers be heard outside the vehicle without opening the windows or doors.

BMW isn't alone is noticing the surge of interest in security worldwide.

One option: tires that work when flat  

O'Gara, the builders of every U.S. presidential armored limousine since the Truman administration, says more ordinary individuals are buying armored vehicles.

"Nowadays, we've started to see an increase worldwide in the threat of random crime and street violence, so the customer base has grown because of that threat affecting a lot more people," said Chip Lennon, president of the security group Kroll-O'Gara.

O'Gara, which recently merged with corporate investigators Kroll, believes that if random violence continues, demand will continue to grow.

Other automakers are looking into developing their own armored cars as today's unfortunate realities fuel customer concerns.

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