During the planning phases of an executive protection mission, sometimes, a client and mission planner can be unsure on what vehicle they would prefer to use. This can be for a number of reasons such as which vehicle is suitable to the upcoming mission and the fact that most executive protection service providers use a combination of SUV's and Sedans as methods of secure transport.
SUVs are traditionally renowned for being the vehicle of choice when it comes to executive security but the Sedan is, and increasingly is becoming, a favored choice among clients and protection companies.
Considering the choice from a safety perspective, during a crash scenario, an SUV vehicle is both large in size and extremely heavy, especially when compared to 'regular' road vehicles. This means that SUVs can absorb a far greater amount of energy that a stereotypical Sedan.
Considering a scenario from a security point of view, the SUV is much taller and therefore the driver has a much clearer view of the road ahead and of the surrounding area, giving drivers an increased amount of time to spot potential dangers and avoid them.
It's also worth noting that there is a widespread misconception that SUVs are more dangerous due to their weight and therefore, there is an increased chance of rolling over in an accident scenario. It's believed that this causes a higher mortality rate in these kinds of vehicles but there is no solid research or data to prove this.
When looking at the construction of an SUV, there is far more metal and material in between the passengers and the road. This translate to SUV drivers having an increased amount of safety when at the wheel, much higher than you would have in a Sedan or other types of smaller car.
Construction aside, both vehicles have similar safety features such as airbags, anti-lock brakes and similar features, meaning that SUVs typically top other kinds of vehicles when it comes to comparing safety.
When comparing both vehicles in a head-on collision situation, a recent study concluded that the odds of experiencing a fatality in a Sedan were 7.6 times higher than when travelling in an SUV. The tests were conducted for drivers of the vehicles.
Even during the crash tests where the Sedan driver resulted in a far better front crash test rating, the odds of experiencing a fatality were still 4.5 times more likely than if the individual was in a SUV.
All this in mind, choosing an SUV for the mission isn't always the best choice. Although mentioned above about the roll-over factor of the SUV, the rate is still a lot higher than the Sedans. With a higher centre of gravity, SUVs can roll in certain instances which often results in a fatal death when it does occur.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) can dramatically decrease the risk of roll-over and is highly recommended of executive protection vehicles. ESC systems were made mandatory on models older than 2012 and was used across the range of various models before the policy was implemented.
However, it's worth noting that the majority of roll over accidents that resulted in fatalities had various over contributing factors such as the occupants were not wearing seatbelts suggests that many of these deaths may have been avoidable.
No matter what time of year it is, you'll want your protection vehicles to maintain an outstanding performance at all times. Using features such as 4-Wheel drive or All-wheel-drive (AWD) can assist you greatly in traversing off road areas and areas affected by bad weather such as heavy rain or snow. Despite a few Sedan models coming equipped with AWD, all SUVs come with 4WD or AWD as standard.
Moving to other aspects of the car, cargo space can be an important factor when choosing what vehicle is suitable for a mission. As you would expect, the SUV gains another point hands down.
All in all, every point considered, the SUV seems like the obvious choice, especially in regards to factors such as safety and protection. However, with this in mind, SUVs are not suitable for every single job, every mission or every situation and mission environment.
At the end of the day, it's the mission co-ordinator and the client that must make the final decision using their previous experience and client preferences. All the clients requirements and personal criteria must be met as this is a service they are paying for.
If the client requires a low profile to be maintained throughout the mission, a huge SUV with blacked out windows may draw unwanted attention and in a low profile scenario, may not be the best choice when compared to a Sedan that can blend in to its surroundings.
Another factor to consider is that when choosing an SUV, much thought should be given as to who is available to drive this vehicle during the mission. To operate an SUV effectively, proper reinforced driving training should be given as SUVs vary greatly compared to 'normal' road cars. Handling varies massively when comparing a Sedan and a SUV.
It's also worth noting that SUVs have a much higher fuel consumption rate and is therefore a more expensive option.
One question that is asked time and time again, does the vehicle colour matter?
Over the decades that executive protection agencies that been operating, black has been chosen as the standard industry colour for no other reason other than it gives vehicles a prestigious appearance and appears professional to employees and clients. However, there is no operational advantage to using this colour.
Therefore, is a low profile is needed for a mission, many security providers now opt to use vehicles, especially SUVs in white or silver colours. This helps vehicles to blend in and not becoming to obvious in public spaces.
There is also the unwritten standard that every vehicle used in a convoy should be the same make, brand and colour. This tactic was used to confuse potential threats as the criminal would not know which victim the target is sitting in but this is a dated concept. A more updated and highly effective technique is deliver a VIP using one vehicle and then extract them using another. This is a technique that is regularly employed by celebrity protection agencies.