Popemobile 'to become green machine'
New Popemobile would be a electric-petrol hybrid made by Mercedes-Benz.
Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 08:01 AM
GREEN AND WHITE: Pope Benedict XVI is driven through a crowd in his Popemobile prior to a mass on the second and final day of his pastoral visit to Croatia. (Photo: Michael Kappeler/ZUMA Press)
BERLIN — Mercedes-Benz is making a greener hybrid Popemobile for Benedict XVI, the WirtschaftsWoche weekly paper said Saturday.
However a Vatican spokesman denied the paper's prediction that it should be ready for Benedict's visit to his native Germany in September.
According to the report, the new Popemobile will be based on the four-wheel drive M Class Mercedes with a hybrid electric-petrol motor.
The rechargeable lithium-ion battery will allow it to drive 30 kilometers (16 miles) without any polluting emissions.
The pope would not be allowed to use a purely electric-driven car as the Popemobile must have the capacity to take off swiftly in case of emergency, the paper said.
A Mercedes-Benz spokesman said the group could give no details on private clients "for reasons of confidentiality."
Mercedes has provided the special cars to successive popes since the 1980s, the special big-windowed, reinforced glass design allowing for maximum viewing with high levels of security.
Last December, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the governorate of Vatican City State, suggested Pope Benedict was "prepared to use an electric Popemobile," as long as it was efficient and reliable.
Benedict XVI, sometimes labeled "the green pope" in the Italian press, has emphasized the defense of "God's works" and therefore the need to protect the environment.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP Saturday that while the project for the new car was under development, it was not yet finalized and the vehicle would not be ready before the end of the year.
Copyright 2011 AFP Global Edition