Pope Benedict XVI, the current head of the Roman Catholic Church, holds a special fondness for electric vehicles. This was made known when the Vatican revealed that the Pontiff was eager to count an electric vehicle as among the fleet of armored cars he would be using in undertaking his Papal duties. He also is the first Pope to have solar panels installed on the roofs of some of the buildings in and around the Vatican.
This goal has finally been realized by French carmaker Renault. The company has donated to the Vatican for the Pope’s use two new electric cars, designed from the car firm’s Kangoo Maxi Z.E. The design platform is an upgraded version of the Kangoo delivery van popularly used in Europe.
The first new Papal electric vehicle is painted white, with the Vatican coat of arms proudly emblazoned on the doors. The car’s main use would be for the Pope’s travel to his summer residence located in Castel Gandolfo. The second Papal electric vehicle would be used by the Corps of Gendarmerie Corps of the Vatican. The corps is the Pope’s very own police force and the vehicle would be painted blue with yellow and white striping down the side.
The vehicles are able to produce 60 horsepower and have a range of over 100 miles. The electric motor is rated at forty four kilowatt hours and has a lithium ion battery array. The Kangoo is equipped with a spacious rear bench that can accommodate two individual rear seats that is the common design for the Pope. It has an opening roof and a retractable step ladder to make boarding and alighting easier. These new features were integrated into the Kangoo platform through the expertise of French coachbuilder Gruau. The electric vehicles were handed over to the Pope personally by Renault Chairperson and CEO Carlos Ghosn. The vehicles though were not intended to replace the renowned “Popemobile” as it was deemed that electric cars are “too slow”, especially with the heavy armor requirements to protect the Pope. The presence of these vehicles would certainly assist in lowering the Vatican’s carbon footprint in the long run.
Pope Benedict XVI is known as the “Green Pope” because of his strong views on environmental issues. The Kangoo is essentially an upgraded golf cart that costs about Euro 15,900 or about U.S. $20,000. In another environmental move, Mercedes, the maker of the Popemobile, is working on a hybrid model to protect not only the Pope but the environment as well.