French automaker Renault has given Pope Benedict XVI an electric car to whizz around in within the grounds of the Vatican and his summer home of Castel Gandolfo, the Holy See said Thursday.
The new white pope-carrier, a Kangoo Maxi Z.E. model bearing the pontifical crest of arms on its
side, may also be used to shuttle the pope between churches outside the Vatican, spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
French automaker Renault's President Carlos Ghosn (R) shakes hands with Pope Benedict XVI next to new Renault electric car in the Garden of the Vatican City on September 5, 2012. Photo: AFP/ Osservatore Romano
Benedict, who is a vocal defender of the environment, backed the project, set up two years ago to "promote a form of clean energy," Lombardi said.
A second car, which is blue, will be used by the Vatican's police force.
The vehicles were presented to the pope on Wednesday at Castel Gandolfo by Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn, before being unveiled to the press on Thursday.
When asked whether the automaker is considering producing an electric pope-mobile to be used during the pontiff's trips abroad or for long distances, Renault's head in Italy, Jacques Bousquet, said it would present a security risk.
"There's a problem in terms of power and security, because a completely electric car would not have sufficient acceleration power in the case of a security problem" such as an attempted attack on the pope, he said.
The new cars, which are 100-percent electric, are silent and emit no pollutants whatsoever, Renault said in a statement.