Pope Benedict wants... solar-powered electric Popemobile?

Pope Benedict XVI is quickly becoming known as the "Green Pope." During his time at the top of the Catholic Church, His Holiness has made a point to preach sustainable energy, and he's backed up his words with actions. In 2008, photovoltaic cells were installed on the roof of a Vatican auditorium, and in 2009, a solar cooling unit was added to the Vatican cafeteria.

The Washington Post is now reporting that Pope Benedict wants to take another step towards a greener footprint with a solar-powered Popemobile. The Vatican says that a solar Pope transporter would be a rolling tribute to the Pontiff's message to promote sustainable energy. But while the Pope's idea is a good one, so far there apparently are no automakers willing to take on the task.

The German firm SolarWorld, which installed the cells atop the Vatican auditorium, says it can build the Pope an electric solar car, but marketing boss Milan Nitzschke claims that a major hurdle is getting the Vatican security to sign off on such an endeavor. There are apparently concerns about a solar Popemobile having enough speed to take off if there are any security incidents. Nitzschke says that power won't be an issue, but with a huge bulletproof dome atop a vehicle that's bound to weigh several thousand pounds, we're thinking range could be a problem as well.

Is a solar Popemobile possible? Of course, but it may not sport large areas of solar cells atop the Pope's bulbous sled. It may be more practical to have an electric Popemobile with large yet portable solar cell arrays that can plug in and charge the vehicle when it isn't on the Papal parade route.

[Source: The Washington Post | Image: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty]

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