Friday, June 01, 2012

An Armored Car for Developing Countries


Recently I have been thinking that the solution that we have arrived in cities like Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Bogota, etc., of transforming a normal car into an armored car is suboptimal. First, I am not talking about the armored trucks banks use to move money, nor the hummer-like cars used by the military. I am talking about your usual car used by diplomats around the world.

The need is simple, people with security concerns (e.g. the wealthy or the political class) need an armored car in these type of cities in developing countries. The current supply of armored cars is basic: Take a normal car and put on armor of different caliber.


Instead of transforming a normal car into an armored car why not design an armored car from scratch? I am sure you can design a better armored car if you start without any restriction and knowing exactly what are the essentials. There are some features of a normal car that are not aligned with the functionality of an armor car (e.g. windows that do not go down). Why be bound by this misalignment? Why not design and create the perfect armor car with the style of a BMW, optimizing for performance and weight.

The same way Miguel Caballero developed bullet proof fashion and created an entire company around high quality/top design bulletproof clothes, there is an opportunity to design and manufacture new armored cars. If this ever happens I think it will come from a country like Mexico, Brazil or Colombia. Or maybe Miguel Caballero reads this post and starts a new line of "products".


I am thinking there is two ways of measuring the potential of this market. Lets assume that 0.1% of the population in countries like Brazil, Colombia and Mexico have an armored car. That means around of the 350M people living on those 3 countries you may have 350K people or maybe 100K households. At a price point of US$100K per car the market for armored cars in those 3 countries is US$10B. Assuming a purchasing cycle of 5 years, the market is US$2B a year. 

Another way of thinking about this is that Miguel Caballero can have around US$10M in revenue per year in bulletproof clothes. Lets assume for simplicity that each item has an average price of US$1K that means he is selling 10K items per year. Lets assume that each person buying at his store purchases 2 items. That means he has 5K customers that could purchase an armored car. Again, at US$100K per car that means US$500M a year. 

So my market size is around US$500-$2B a year. Pretty good.

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