Renault Turns Popemobile Green With A New EV

The Papamobile has gone verde.

Thanks to Renault, Pope Benedict XVI has a new vehicle for use at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Renault also donated a second EV for use by the Corps of the Gendarmerie Vatican City, who provide security for the pope back home.

pope benedict electric vehicle renault

image via Renault

The pope’s new ride is based on Renaut’s Kangoo Maxi Z.E., and was converted to papal specifications by the French coachbuilder Gruau.

Renault describes the vehicle as “an ecological, sustainable-development version of the Popemobile,” with a 44 kilowatt (60 hp) electric motor and a lithium battery pack that will deliver range of about 105 miles.

renault pope electric vehicle

image via Renault

This isn’t the pope’s first electric vehicle, although it might be the first one he actually uses. Earlier this summer the Vatican received a NWG Zero, a little two-seater not designed for highway use.

Renault said the summer-residence vehicle it gave the pope, as well as the one going to Vatican City, can seat four and offers “an opening roof, removable side windows, hinged rear side doors and electrically folding door steps to facilitate ingress.”

Renault said it donated the cars to His Holiness in order to “reaffirm its strong and durable commitment to sustainable development and respect for the environment.”

They might have thought it would get some publicity, also. Nothing wrong with that. PR for the company and EVs for the pontiff – a win-win in the Vatican’s eyes.

“We are delighted with this fruitful association with Renault,” the Vatican’s press officer said. “We see this as a positive message to promote the development of technologies that are respectful of the environment, which is something the Church Magistrature and, above all, Pope Benedict XVI have always wanted.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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