April 16 - Brazilians are adding a new accessory to their cars - bulletproof windows and doors - as residents of the world's seventh largest economy try to protect themselves from high rates of kidnapping, murder and robbery. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Driving in Brazil can be treacherous. Not just because of the traffic, but because of the high rates of murder, kidnapping, and robbery. And so a growing number of Brazil's emerging middle class are adding new accessories to their vehicles: bulletproof doors and windows. Sales of the car shielding kit by U.S. chemicals company DuPont surged 70 percent in the first quarter compared to a year ago. DuPont Armura uses SentryGlas bulletproof technology and the same Kevlar component found in bullet proof vests, and can stop up to a .38 caliber bullet. Alan Goran is a technical manager at Dupont Armura in Sao Paulo. SOUNDBITE: ALAN GORAN, TECHNICAL MANAGER, DUPONT ARMURA (PORTUGUESE WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION) SAYING: "DuPont Armura was developed to offer more security for a larger portion of the population. That is our objective, so our target is the common family man who lives in big cities and who is looking for more safety in his car in order to drive around in the streets." But that drive can be expensive for Brazilians, who already spend $8 billion a year in private security, according to a security guard's union. Total costs to outfit the vehicle come in at about 22,000 Brazilian reais or roughly $2,000. And that's in addition to the cost of the car. Sports retailer Alexandre Sarafian decided to bulletproof a Kia Sportage for his mother because of security concerns. SOUNDBITE: ALEXANDRE SARAFIAN, DUPONT ARMURA CLIENT, SPORTS RETAILER (PORTUGUESE WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION) SAYING: "I wouldn't say that I like this, because ideally we would not need to be inside an armored car. But it has become a necessity and unfortunately we have to worry about this." DuPont is planning to roll it out its armored personal vehicle kit in two other un-named countries. Conway Gittens, Reuters