Chances are if you're reading this, you live in a locale that is devoid of frequent regime changes, random acts of violence or shaky private property rights. In the other 98% of the world, such interruptions of daily life do exist, and when there's a great gulf between the rich and the poor, things tend to get a little dangerous.
Last year, I was able to visit one of those countries, and got to check out my hosts fleet of armored cars. While these vehicles were outfitted by some of the best retrofitters in the business, there are a few inevitable compromises. One of the SUVs, powered by a six-cylinder engine, had an electrical system that couldn't cope with the added weight of the armoring. Any time the windows needed to be opened, they would roll down with a power switch and manually brought up by hand – an awkward and time consuming act that was annoying and could put one's life at risk. Another SUV was armored to Fort Knox levels, but the contractor forgot about the braking system. The truck rear-ended someone so badly that the other car was planted firmly beneath the undercarriage of the SUV, all because these sorts of things aren't taken into account by aftermarket firms.
Enter BMW Security Vehicles. Available as a factory-integrated package on the 5-Series, X5 and 7-Series, the BMW Security cars are engineered and built to be bulletproof from the start, which eliminates those pesky quirks like non-functioning windows and brakes. BMW has released a video demonstrating how the vehicles are designed and tested highlighting their "from the ground up" approach (and they even mention upgraded window regulators, so it must be a common complaint), showing the vehicles doing fancy pirouettes on a test track and getting blasted with high-velocity rifle rounds.
A quick look at the website shows the usual armor plating, sirens and other defensive gear. What is missing from the catalog are some of the more extreme features that aftermarket companies do offer; smokescreens, weapon ports, remote starters with bomb detection. Surely there's some liability issues involved, but the extra engineering that goes into the BMW Security products is worth far more than some James Bond-like gimmicks.
More: BMW Security Vehicles Are Serious Business