The Pope had exclaimed interest in replacing his gas-guzzling Mercedes SUV 'popemobile' for a more environmentally-friendly car last December, and now the Vatican has confirmed details of Pope Benedict XVI’s newest eco-vehicle. The Pope will be riding a custom-made M-Class plug-in hybrid based on the Mercedes Vision S500 plug-in hybrid.
The Vatican said that they opted for a plug-in hybrid, versus an all-electric popemobile for safety reasons (they wanted a car that could accelerate quick enough in case of an emergency).
The current popemobile is heavily armored car to keep the Pope safe and is loaded with bullet-proof glass and emergency equipment. This makes the car significantly heavier than the M-Class Mercedes it's based on, and the extra weight lowers fuel-efficiency.
There are also rumors that the real reason the Vatican opted for the plug-in hybrid rather than pure electric popemobile wasn't for safety purposes, but because Mercedes did not want to pay to develop a completely new drive train that it wouldn't be using on any of its own cars.
While the Vatican hasn't released too much information on the car for security reasons, the plug-in hybrid will run for about 16 miles in all-electric mode.
The car is not likely to be ready until the end of the year at the earliest, a Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi said.
Via Discovery News