Representatives for Pope Benedict XVI continue to talk to Mercedes-Benz about making a custom-made vehicle that could use a hybrid or battery-electric powertrain to make what's commonly known as the Popemobile more fuel efficient, The Detroit Bureau reports.

The German automaker is faced with the dual challenges of making an electric-drive vehicle that is both non-aerodynamic – the current version has an upright cabin that fits two people – and heavier – because the cabin's bulletproof – than normal. One reason for the distinctive bubble is that Pope John Paul II was wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt.

Last year, reports surfaced that Mercedes-Benz was working on a hybrid-electric Popemobile that would be a customized version of the automaker's M-Class and would be able to travel in all-electric mode at low speeds for as far as 16 miles before its gas-powered engine was engaged.

Mercedes-Benz sells a hybrid version of its M-Class that's powered in part by a six-cylinder engine and gets an EPA-rating of 22 miles per gallon combined. Through the first 11 months of last year, Mercedes-Benz sold fewer than 100 of those models in the U.S.



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  • 30 Comments
      cestmoi77
      • 3 Years Ago
      Do aerodynamics really factor into their equation that much, knowing that the Popemobile is not often used at speeds other than an extreme crawl?! Seems to me that weight reduction efforts (Maybe the recently developed metal lattice could be implemented: http://green.autoblog.com/2012/01/01/auto-applications-sought-for-new-advanced-metal-thats-100x-ligh/) and an electric drivetrain with a small, efficient diesel generator would be a great solution. Either that, or he could bring along the cardinals in a giant pedal-car.... (c;
        Johnny-wat
        • 3 Years Ago
        @cestmoi77
        It needs to go quick in case the Pope gets shot at again. Bulletproof glass doesn't let you just sit there and take the hits. You still have to drive fast, away from the attack. But yeah, most of the time, it'll be crawling.
      winc06
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Vatican expects it for free, I am guessing.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      You know, i'd love to buy one of the old models used and make it into a rolling piece of performance art. ..we replaced a religious icon with a ham sandwich.. let's see if they notice..
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        I want a ham sandwich...
      BipDBo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Electric Popemobile gets one Happy Dan. Light :( Aerodynamic :( Electric :)
        Eu_Driver
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        dd
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        : ) since it's a special purpose vehicle that has a halfway decent reason for being heavy and doesn't go far, I don't blame it for the weight nor the aerodynamics. a battery electric popemobile would get my full approval vehicle wise. catholicism is another matter even though I am christian.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        :D
      amtoro
      • 3 Years Ago
      Slow, heavy and aerodynamically-challenged electric vehicle.... The first thing that comes to my mind are the fork-lifts and material handlers that roll around in our warehouse all day long and are recharged at night.
      karlInSanDiego
      • 3 Years Ago
      Popemobile doesn't need to be efficient. Just throw more batteries at it. Given a Vatican budget, load up any vehicle with enough LiOn and it'd run all day. Just make sure to give it 6 separate chargers so you can juice in parallel. Surprised the Pope wouldn't throw a bone to Fiat/Alfa/Lancia/Ferrari to make it again. German Pope != German Popemobile by default. Rolling a Merc just reinforces Popey's roll as a .0001% er
      DarylMc
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hands down his new car should be the Nissan e-NV200. It's even quite stylish compared to his current wheels.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      If only they could make engine that runs on pure hypocrisy then they wouldn't even need to fuel it up. ;-)
      Breconeer
      • 3 Years Ago
      Call it papal power. Millions of catholics worldwide would consider going electric if his hol- E-ness the pope hinted that they should and showed the way. (Mind you, I'm not sure why they can't all use the power of prayer to shift their leader around. Surely a miracle like that isn't beyond them, is it?)
      Tagbert
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is the pope sitting in a rolling hot tub? Looks like it is half full of water. Just wait til the jets kick in.
      JRBEINGINEER
      • 3 Years Ago
      “Representatives for Pope Benedict XVI continue to talk to Mercedes-Benz about maker a custom-made vehicle may use a hybrid or battery-electric powertrain to make what's commonly known as the Popemobile more fuel efficient, automotive news website The Detroit Bureau reports.” Say what? Hire a semi-literate proof reader!
        gpmp
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JRBEINGINEER
        "On reason for the distinctive bubble . . . "
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JRBEINGINEER
        :D I stopping complaining about that a while ago, and now just focus on articles on electric cars where they don't put range, charging time, price, or other mildly important things. Been looking at stuff at www.realclearenergy.org. Breath of fresh air...
      DarylMc
      • 3 Years Ago
      Definately nothing made by Tesla. Last thing anyone wants to see is the good man rolling around the back skirt up.
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