Busy times for SVI Engineering


Special Vehicle Industries (SVI) Engineering, which manufactures a range of commercial and military armoured vehicles, is expanding its footprint, customer base and product range as it continues to grow around the world.

SVI was formed in 2004 and specialises in mechanical engineering, product development and manufacturing, and protected vehicles, including armoured civilian vehicles, armoured luxury vehicles, remanufactured military and police vehicles, asset protection vehicles, guard houses and towers.

In 2017 it completed development of its Max 9 armoured personnel carrier, which has unique features such as a digital dashboard and single-piece curved armoured windscreen. The 7 500 kg vehicle is available in a multitude of different versions. It features Stanag 4569 AEP 55 Level 3A/3D landmine protection using a V-shaped hull. It seats seven in addition to the driver.

In September 2018 SVI unveiled the 3.8 ton Max 3 low cost light armoured vehicle, available in different variants, such as mortar carrier. It is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser 79 platform to keep costs down and fitted with an armoured cab with B6 ballistic protection, but this can be upgraded to B7. It can be fitted with a Reutech Rogue LITE 12.7mm remotely operated weapon station, amongst others. The vehicle has been in production for a number of years and was recently revised with a more aggressive body style, increased internal space and other changes.

In 2018 SVI launched a new systems integration division called SVI Systems and Solutions, specialising in Level 5 system integration with qualified products. It is aimed largely at new and vehicle upgrade programmes. Systems and solutions on offer include ambulance, jammer, communications, protection and smoke launcher systems. SVI also offers the Pathfinder seismic/acoustic sensor and a thermal radar for surveillance – this has proven popular with mining companies.

On the weapons side, SVI can supply its vehicles like the Max 3 with Thales Scorpion 60/81 mm automated mortar, 12.7 mm pintle mounted machinegun or 12.7 mm Rogue Lite remotely operated weapon station. Other options are fire extinguishing systems, long range acoustic devices (such as the Genasys LRAD 450XL) for crowd control, and less lethal solutions.

In 2019 SVI launched SVI Secure, an armoured vehicle rental division that offers modified commercial vehicles like saloons and SUVs as well as armoured personnel carriers. The rental business is so successful that all rental vehicles are currently in use by customers and SVI wants to expand the rental vehicle fleet as there is big demand for such a service.

For close protection and valuables in transit solutions, SVI offers affordable cube-in Stopgun solutions for close-protection vehicles and tailormade canopies ranging from valuables in transit up to full armoured personnel carrier units. Supplying armoured Hilux and Ranger vehicles is keeping SVI very busy, according to Benny Jiyane, Executive Director of SVI Group.

SVI works closely with original equipment manufacturers like Toyota, as the Land Cruiser and Hilux are common base vehicles for asset protection and security companies. Other partnerships are being forged with companies such as Ford and Isuzu. Ford recently announced an armouring partnership with SVI where the customer can, for the first time in South Africa, order their armoured Rangers from any Ford dealership while retaining full warranty and service plan. A similar arrangement is already in place with Toyota on an export valuable in transit product, with endorsement from Toyota Japan – some of these armoured Toyotas have already been exported. SVI is currently negotiating similar agreements with other OEMs.

SVI also built the first armoured Isuzu under a similar arrangement. This was supposed to be displayed by Isuzu at last year’s Nampo agricultural exhibition but unfortunately this could not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although SVI has a list of preferred vehicles it armours for the sake of ease of modification, the company can armour just about any vehicle, and is currently doing a Volvo hybrid electric vehicle and has been requested to armour a Lamborghini Urus. Its typical private customers fit armour to BMW sedans and SUVs and Toyota Hilux and Land Cruiser/Prado models.

A recent addition to the SVI product range is bullet-resistant vests, as many of its customers have a requirement for these. Manufacture is on site, with equipment such as a laser cutter used to cut the composite materials.

Since being established in 2004, SVI has put 2 500 vehicles and products in the field, with customers in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The company also has offices in four continents and as part of its expansion process, recently opened a company in Saudi Arabia. Initially, the Saudi branch will manufacture armoured civilian vehicles and possibly armoured military vehicles at a later stage.

SVI’s Mozambican company exists to expand SVI’s presence there, and has rental vehicles at present – SVI previously armoured 110 locomotives for Mozambican operators after a spate of attacks.

SVI’s facility in Pretoria East employs some 40 people and eight engineers, but manufacturing is also done when large orders need to be fulfilled – when SVI received an order for 130 armoured Hilux vehicles two years ago, these were mostly manufactured off-site within a two-month period. The company is a fully accredited Master Builder and has extensive engineering and development expertise, including digital design, simulation and development capabilities. SVI is also registered with the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) and has Armscor clearance. It is a registered importer and exporter with the South African Revenue Service. SVI’s facility is sited on 43 000 square metres of land, with 1 200 square metres production facilities.

Jiyane emphasises that SVI is in the business of saving lives, and highlights the fact that every month, six to ten vehicles come back to have armour replaced after being shot at – in many of these cases, the people inside the vehicles would have been killed had it not been for the armour fitted to their vehicles.