The following details are sourced between 2005 and 2017 and include both soft skin and armoured vehicles.
Every client is unique. While some tasks require a very low and subtle profile, others can solely prioritise luxury. Another major contributing factor is the fact that each client operates on varying budgetary requirements limit.
Here at MPS Executive, we ensure we always act accordingly to the specific client’s profile and required task details which we also refer to when choosing which is the right vehicle/s for the mission from our dedicated fleet.
Our fleet has continuously evolved over the years, not only because of the obvious need to keep the fleet and models up to date but because of the way that our clients nowadays are much more involved in the protection planning process and want the ability to choose their own transportation.
Unfortunately, many executives have their own agendas, and some care more about style than their own safety and can sometimes even refuse to let the professionals make the decision for them.
After dealing with many different clients and unique requests (from CEOs and UNHW to celebrities, politicians and high-risk clients) and gaining a wealth of experience, I decided to compile the following article, detailing our personal experience with vehicles and fleet operation within the executive protection industry.
As a point of interest, I decided to delve into our records and check which vehicles are the most popular by the client’s request over the years (2005-2017). This list contains all manner of vehicles, including SUVs, sedans, vans as well as soft skin and armoured models, the results of which you can find below in the accompanying infographic.
According to our extensive data history, there is much more demand for the SUV-type vehicles in comparison to sedans, as you can clearly see that all the top five vehicle requests to be SUVs.
Perhaps surprisingly, there is no clear sign of preference between male or female clients towards specific types, brands or models of car.
For us, 2016 and 2017 were reigned by the Porsche Cayenne. While we did not use it often before, several unique client requests later and we started to use it increasingly. We also received outstanding feedback from both the corporate and luxury sectors in which we cater for.
However, the prestigious Range Rover is still the number one.
Please remember that the details listed above are only applicable to South Africa and Botswana regions of operation and, therefore, it might be completely different in other countries.
While I don’t have the proper global research, conversations on the subject with colleagues from other countries of operation, located around the globe, led me to believe there are definitely differences based of geographical locations.
For example, in the United States, I got the impression that most commonly used vehicle type is also SUV, but different brands than us which includes; Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade. However, for the time being, sedans have been used the same, with the S-class coming in as the firm favourite.
Of course, executive protection companies always will strive to please the client in every possible scenario, but it’s important to recognise the need to accommodate themselves according to the availability of their existing fleet.
Additionally, it is quite interesting to check which vehicle used by the world leaders;
For example, Rolls Royce is chosen for the Royal families of Denmark, Holland and Malaysia, Queen Elizabeth uses part of a Bentley fleet, and prime minister of the UK uses a Jaguar XJ Sentinel. In Oman, the preferred model is the Maybach 62.
Turning our attention to Russia and you’ll find that Putin is regularly using Mercedes S-class. In Italy, they’re proud to use the locally-produced Maserati in the same way as Peugeot is used in France, Toyota Century in Japan and Volvo in Sweden for the king, although the Swedish prime minister is using a Mercedes S-class same, as the German chancellor.
Moving over to China and you’ll find the iconic Hongqi limousine, South Korea’s president is using a BMW 7 series (and not a local Hyundai) compared to Costa Rica which chose the Hyundai Equus.
The US presidential limousine is a heavy armoured Cadillac, and the Israeli prime minister sits in an armoured Audi A8 Security.
As you can see, there is quite a diverse range of vehicle models being used, but if many world leaders use sedan why most of the executive protection companies prefer to use SUV?
In short, a politician’s vehicle is part of a convoy and perhaps can do that for various reasons, such as statehood and formality reasons. However, in most cases, the rest of a politician’s convoy will include SUVs as well.
Most of the VIP client’s transportation in the private market is not part of a massive motorcade, and in such case, the single SUV has few advantages over the sedan.
The U.S. motorcade is surrounding by Suburbans; The Israelis use Toyota V8 Land Cruisers and the Russian with Mercedes GLS. In Mexico, it is the Cadillac Escalade and the British with Range Rovers.
The official state car of the Prime Minister of Australia is an armoured BMW 7-Series, supported at all times by an armoured BMW X5, the same set up as the Norwegian Royal family. Likewise, the Columbian presidential is armoured BMW 7 serious escorted in a motorcade by Toyota land cruisers.
If we’re talking about executive protection, I personally prefer the SUV, but somehow, I get the feeling that many clients who request luxury sedan care more about the image. I know some security experts will disagree and will make claims like; low gravity, lower profile, fast and quick escape. Nevertheless, I believe the SUV has far more benefits over the sedan in a protection scenario.