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Armored sedan coming to U.S.

Mercedes-Benz model set to go on sale in November

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — DaimlerChrysler AG is offering a car for security-conscious U.S. drivers who can afford some extra protection — an armored Mercedes sedan that sells for a minimum of $153,950.

The Mercedes-Benz S500 Guard is to go on sale in November, but the automaker already has sold 22 of the 2001 V8-powered models.

Until now, Mercedes-Benz sold armored cars only in Europe, Russia, Brazil and Mexico. They are the largest markets for armored passenger vehicles.

But a growing segment of security-conscious drivers convinced Mercedes-Benz it could sell armored cars in the United States at a handsome profit.

"Americans already spend a staggering $90 billion a year on security services and devices," Robert F. Allan, manager of special vehicles for Mercedes-Benz U.S. sales arm, told The Detroit News for a story Wednesday. "There's room for the market to grow."

Mercedes-Benz demonstrated the vehicles' performance capabilities Tuesday at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The demonstration included a mock attack by armed thugs.

Built by hand at a Mercedes-Benz factory near Stuttgart, Germany, the S500 Guard sedan features steel armor plating and multiple layers of polycarbonate security glass. For the first time on a Mercedes-Benz, it has standard 17-inch tires that can run flat up to a speed of 35 mph.

It is designed to provide protection from kidnappings, carjackings and firearms as large as .44 caliber. Prices start at $153,950.

"No armored car is impenetrable, but our primary purpose is to give S500 passengers more time to escape a random violent attack," Allan said.