2019 Executive Vehicle and Secure Transportation Survey Results Summary

The Executive Vehicle & Secure Transportation Survey is conducted biennially since 2013.

Over the last six years, the surveys have covered various aspects of secure transportation. The goal of the survey is to examine trends and collect data to develop a broader perspective on the secure transportation profession.

Practitioners who participated in the survey represent the corporate, high net worth, and private security communities. Thirty-seven percent of the participants are from the corporate community, twenty-three percent are from private security, and twenty-one percent are from high net worth. The participants have an average of fifteen years of experience.

Please keep in mind that while these may not be the best vehicles for the job, they are the most used.

ISDA Vehicle Survey Results Summary

Survey Results Summary

Vehicles Types Used for Secure Transportation

Sixty-seven percent of the vehicles used for executive transportation were SUVs, while sedans represent twenty-five percent – a six percent decrease in the use of sedans as executive vehicles over the last six years.

Although the majority of car manufacturers are phasing out sedans, most of the sedans used for executive transport will remain in production.

Mercedes Still the Sedan of Choice

For those who use sedans, Mercedes is the most often used for executive transportation and has been since surveys began in 2013. Interestingly in the 2013 survey, there were two U.S. manufacturers represented in the top five: Lincoln and Cadillac. This year, there were no U.S. manufacturers in the top five.

Note – Dating back to the inception of the survey in 2013, the Mercedes Benz S Class and the Suburban are the model vehicles most often used for executive transportation.

Suburban Still the SUV of Choice

The Suburban is still the number one SUV used for executive protection and has been for six years, followed by the Escalade, Toyota Land Cruiser, and the Lincoln Navigator. For the first time, the MB Sprinter made it onto the list.

Considering that the majority of survey participants are from the U.S. and work in corporate and HNW, the numbers make sense. Additional information on SUVs is available at Vehicle Dynamics Institute.

Use of Armored Vehicles

Sixty-three percent of those who took part in the survey do not use an armored vehicle. Of the thirty-seven percent who do use armored vehicles, their vehicles are armored to levels B5 and B6. As a side note, there still seems to be confusion concerning the levels of armor and use of the word “bulletproof.” No vehicle is bulletproof, and vehicles marketed as such should be used with caution.

Note – The use of armored vehicles has fluctuated from 15.5% in 2013, to 22.9% in 2015, and to 14.1% in 2017. In 2019 the number of participants using armored vehicles jumped to thirty-six percent. That is more than double the amount reported in the last survey (2017) and thirteen percent from the highest usage (2015).

More on the Level of Armor

The level of armor can be an indication of the type of risk the vehicle moves through. The higher the level of armor, the higher the perceived risk. The survey indicated that of the thirty-seven percent who use armored vehicles, 29.7% are driving Level B4 vehicles, which are used mostly in a low to medium risk environment. Level B5 vehicles are used by 27.5% (of the 37%) of participants, Level B6 28.6% (of the 37%), and the highest level, B7, was used by the remaining 14.3%.

Teijin, an international ballistics standards app, provides up-to-date figures of major international standards for different ballistic protection applications. The app is available for free on Android and iOS platforms.

ISDA Members can download “Best Practices for Purchasing an Armored Vehicle

Renting Armored Vehicles

This year, twenty-six percent of the participants rented armored vehicles; although this number has been consistent over the years, we feel that it is a significant metric. The number of survey participants who rent armored vehicles has stayed relatively the same. We urge caution when renting armored vehicles. Ensure you are getting what you pay for.

What Apps Do You Use for Secure Transportation?

Waze was the most used app, followed by Weather and Google Maps, but the most significant response was, “None.”

EP Job Data – The Skills Gap

Another metric we have measured is the increase in the availability of EP jobs.

Two-Vehicle Scenarios

When transporting the principal, 74% of executive protection details use more than one vehicle. This number (74%) has not changed from the previous year. It is an indication of the level of security that the market feels is required.

The two-vehicle scenario can also be viewed as a marketing metric. There are a significant number of clients who, due to the threat level, required two vehicles—which means that there is more than one EP Agent. However, that number could also be an indication of the level at which survey participants work.


Two Vehicle Scenario

Two-Vehicle Scenario – Vehicles Used

When using a two-vehicle scenario, 68% of the backup vehicles used are SUVs. The type of vehicle used in two-vehicle scenarios also has not changed; they are still SUVs. Read more on the science of a two-vehicle scenario.

Security Driving Environment – The Present

Seventy-two percent of survey participants are presently working in a low-risk environment and twenty-five percent in a high-risk environment. The high-risk number has increased from previous years but not by much.

Security Driving Environment – The Past

In the past, twenty-seven percent of survey participants worked in a low-risk environment, and 67% in a high-risk area. More than a quarter of survey participants have worked in a high-risk environment.

Winter driving

Driving in the Winter Environment

Seventy percent of survey participants drive in winter conditions—this aligns with the national (U.S.) average. Considering that tires are the drivers’ only connection with Mother Earth, it is essential to understand the difference between the tire types. Read information on cold-weather driving tips and kits.

Does The Primary Vehicle Have AWD, FWD, 4WD, RWD, or 2WD?

Forty-four percent of survey participants have AWD vehicles. AWD is now typically available in executive vehicles compared to years past.

At This Time What Slice of the Profession Are You Working In?

More than half of the participants work in the corporate or private security part of the profession, with eighteen percent in HNW. These numbers have held for the past six years of the survey. In 2017, the numbers were about the same with an increase in the HNW slice.

Number of Years in the Profession.

Fifty-seven percent have eighteen or more years in the profession; this is an indication of the audience we (ISDA) reach. We do not think this number is inclusive of social media. The 57% number has not changed in six years, but keep in mind that many who take the survey are not on social media.

In What Country Do You Reside?

The majority reside in the U.S., with Canada and the U.K. in second and third places, respectively. Overall, participants live in thirty-three different countries.

Liability Versus the Almighty Dollar

Use of Rental Cars

Do you use rental vehicles while supplying protective or secure transportation services? Fifty-six percent of the participants use rental vehicles. This number has gone down compared to other years. We urge caution when using rental vehicles.

For more information on car rentals as it pertains to secure transportation, read this article from Vehicle Dynamics Institute. Also, download this free rental vehicle checklist for secure transportation providers.

Vehicle Type Most Often Rented

The vehicle most often rented was an SUV. This reinforces the need to have a driver who understands the differences between the driving characteristics of sedans and SUVs. It is also essential that the driver recognizes the vehicle warning systems, for example, blind side detection. In an emergency, the car supplies the driver with a warning— and it should not be the first time the driver has heard this signal. The time wasted determining what the problem is ca—and will— be dangerous for both the driver and the passengers.

When Traveling, Do You Hire Drivers?

Forty-six percent of participants employ security drivers when traveling— a figure much lower than our initial expectation. This indicates a need for security drivers who have an understanding of the IRS code for secure transportation. Private security historically has supplied unqualified drivers. Using security drivers also requires an understanding of the IRS regulation governing secure transportation.

If a provider supplies “secure transportation,” they must be in compliance with the IRS code that defines secure transportation. There are many secure transportation providers that use those two words as a marketing tool, but if a supplier does not comply with the IRS code, they expose their client to financial risk.

If You Do Hire Drivers, How Do You Vet the Drivers?

Most of the drivers are found via word of mouth (WOM), but the survey responses indicated it was through a combination of experience, recommendations, and training. For decades the best marketing strategy has been WOM. A suggested book is the Trusted Advisor.