Armor: Gelaendewagen Zum Oz


October 10, 2007: Australia has decided to re-equip its army with a thousand of the German versions of the U.S. hummer (HMMWV, or humvee.) You could call it "hummer lite." The Mercedes G500 Gelaendewagen ("cross country vehicle") is an SUV design adapted for military use (PHOTO). It's lighter (2.5 tons) and smaller than the hummer. And cheaper as well (about $35,000 for the military version). If you add the armor package, the price goes to about $66,000. Dozens of armies are replacing their old style jeeps with the G500. Unlike jeeps, which are essentially "convertibles," the G500 is a hard top. That means air conditioning, which is a big plus for the troops. But the troops also complain about the decreased visibility (compared to a jeep with the top down). An optional armor package makes up for a lot of those fears. The G500 is still a good cross country vehicle. But it's more of a transport vehicle than a "battle wagon" as the hummer often is.

The Canadian army recently bought 800 G500s, including 160 of the armored models. Some 60 of the armored G-Wagons were promptly shipped off to Canadian troops in Afghanistan. The civilian version of the G500 costs about $73,000 in the United States (with all the required anti-pollution and safety devices, but no armor). The idea for the G500 came from the late Shah of Iran in the late 1970s. The Shah was deposed before Mercedes could get the G500 to market, but once it did, the vehicle became hugely popular.


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