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BW Businessworld

The Guard In India

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Mercedes Benz is not just known for its sleek and efficient cars, it is also a powerhouse when it comes to protection of heads of state and businessman. Mercedes believes with its 90-year history of armoured cars, it is one up over the others and wants to be the top draw in India as far as protection cars are concerned. Markus Reubenbauer, head of global sales, “Guard” business of Mercedes-Benz, was in India to talk about the new ML-500 Guard SUV and how even Dirty Harry’s gun, the .44 Magnum revolver, will not penetrate the cabin of the car.
 
Are these special cabins or are protected cabins becoming more sophisticated as global terrorism and motivated attacks are becoming common?
We build all our Guard cars, classes M, S, E and G are based on what our clients want and what kind of attack they have to protect themselves from. These cabins have different grades or ballistic resistance levels. In Europe, we have seven levels starting from Ballistic Resistance Level 1 to Ballistic Resistance Level 7 and ShotGun levels 1 and 2. These guard cars are a ton heavier than the normal cars and driving them will require special training.
 
Where do you sell these cars and what is the situation in India?
The demand is mostly from South American nations, Russia, Eastern Europe and UAE. But for us, all markets are important. In India, we have customers but we cannot reveal the client list. Remember these cars are tested in a government certified ballistics facility and are custom built for our clients. Sometimes a car can take two years to deliver. We need to be absolutely perfect in making these cabins because that is what our customers pay us for. 
 
What about the engine of car when damaged in case of an attack?
If the car is immobilised, then the cabin will protect you from the gunfire and any leakage of Carbon Monoxide gas. If the engine is not damaged, the driver can drive away for another 40 miles. We suggest to all our customers to keep driving in case of an attack and not to stop the vehicle. The M Guard can take a grenade attack too. This SUV can take AK-47 attacks with bullets that have a soft core. It is perfect for high profile businessman and India is an important market for Mercedes.
 
How do people customise their cabins. Do they do an analysis of attacks on cars and thereby customise them?
Yes, all our clients have some military or police experience assisting them. So they do come back to us with what happens in their region and what kind of armour needs to be inside.