Green Pope gets two electric Popemobiles

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Pope Bendeict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI. Image: Sergey Gabdurakhmanov/Flickr/CC BY

It is now official. God wants the world to “go green” and cut down on polluting greenhouse gases. As evidence, the Pope now has not one, but two, zero-emissions electric Popemobiles, given by the French automaker Renault.

Two electric Popemobiles for the price of none

His Holiness Benedict XVI, who recently has become known as the “Green Pope,” is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of the Vatican. To that end, he has been given two all-electric “Popemobiles.” Both are Renault Kangoo Maxi Z.E., modified by the French coachbuilder Gruau.

The Pope’s car is white, of course, and bears the Papal coat of arms on its doors.

A second Kangoo Maxi Z.E. was also modified and donated for use by the Pope’s official security guard, the Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City. It is distinguishable from Pope Benedict XVI’s car mainly by the insignia on its side.

Some may argue that, to appear less ostentatious, the Holy Father should ride in courtesy used cars. However, going electric does show a genuine concern for the environment. In the past, the Pope has ridden in gas-guzzlers, and so the move is significant. In the early days of motorized travel, His Holiness traveled in a 1930 Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460. A later Popemobile was the 1964 Lincoln Continental Lehmann-Peterson. Most recently, the Pontiff traveled in a modified Mercedes-Benz M-Class sport utility vehicle.

Theology and technology

Renault’s CEO Carlos Ghosn, personally presented the pontiff with the two cars at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. The first will be driven by His Holiness’s chauffeur to travel to and from his summertime residence.

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Both Kangoo Maxi Z.E.s are propelled by a 44kW motor, which is equivalent to 60 horsepower. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, giving it a combined-cycle range of 170 km, or just over 100 miles. A “combined-cycle” averages energy consumption over city, highway and rural driving.

The cars seat four, with the rear seats upgraded for comfort. They also have electric folding steps for easier entrances and exits, an opening roof and removable side windows.

Commitment to the green

The cars will help cement the Pope’s commitment to preserving the planet that, he feels, we inherited from the Divine Spirit. Plus, it is not bad publicity for Renault, a consideration surely not lost on the automaker.


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