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Rising crime ups Mexico bulletproof car production

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An employee works on the door of an armored vehicle at the garage of Blindajes EPEL company in Mexico City, Mexico April 9, 2018. Picture taken April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Historic levels of violent crime in Mexico have sparked a record increase in the country’s car-armoring business, with an industry group predicting a double-digit jump in the number of vehicles bulletproofed this year.

There were more than 25,000 murders across Mexico last year, the highest annual tally since modern records began, government data shows, with 2018 on track to be even worse.

That insecurity will help drive a 10 percent rise in car-armoring services this year to 3,284 cars, above the previous all-time high in 2012, according to the Mexican Automotive Armor Association.

That figure is small relative to the 15,145 cars armored last year in Brazil, which expects to see a 25 percent jump this year.

Demand in Mexico has grown so strong that more global automakers have started bulletproofing cars on their own Mexican production lines as opposed to the usual practice of after-market armoring.

Audi began making an armored version of its Q5 light sport utility vehicle exclusively in the central state of Puebla in mid-2017 for local sale and export to Brazil and Argentina. The company declined to give recent sales figures.

BMW, Jeep and Mercedes-Benz have made armored cars in Mexico for several years.

Last year just a tiny portion were armored, since the cars remain a luxury for the affluent and for companies that require executives to travel in bulletproof vehicles with bodyguards, said Avila.

Mexican security companies have also expanded rental and leasing offerings, services that are increasingly popular.

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