Having installed solar panels on an audience hall and a solar cooling unit in its cafeteria, it's reported that the Vatican is now keen to have a solar powered electric vehicle for the Pope.
“It would… be a demonstration, a sign of his ecological attention,” Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, who runs the Vatican City state, said.
The present Popemobile is a specialised custom-built Mercedes ML 430 with a 272 bhp engine, full climate control and, apparently, a tape deck which Benzinga says has been upgraded to an iPod. (I wonder what he listens to?)
The current vehicle can reportedly accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than eight seconds which sounds a bit sluggish for escaping imminent danger. But the torque offered by an electric car would soon take care of that if it's got the right amount of battery power.
It also needs to carry enough armour to protect against rounds from an AK47, M16 or other sniper's-weapon-of-choice. That in itself can add around $150K to the price of the car, but I don't think anyone will be fretting about the cost. 'One has to be offered' according to Businessweek.com, while Pier Carlo Cuscianna, director of technical services for Vatican City, says discussions regarding production of an electric popemobile (a tag which Pope John Paul II abhorred, as it apparently sounded “undignified”) are at a “well-advanced” stage.